NeuRA Magazine #30

HOW MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH IS BRINGING HOPE TO AUSTRALIANS

Growing up in the small Sydney suburb of Oatley, Camille Wilson grew up with access to opportunities with the support of a loving family. From the outside, you would see a high achiever on course towards a bright future. But under the surface there was a young woman plagued by anxiety, who was self-harming and contemplating suicide. 

As a teenager, Camille felt completely isolated and that there was little point to life. For the most part, these dark thoughts and feelings were hidden from her family – until her first suicide attempt at the age of 16. This led her to seek treatment. “I didn’t know what kind of treatment was best for me and the whole process was trial and error. Unfortunately, I was prescribed an array of anxiety medications that all came with side effects – from mild nausea to violent, suicidal thoughts,” Camille said. Worryingly, Camille’s symptoms worsened. During her mid-twenties, Camille was overwhelmed by intrusive thoughts and regularly hospitalised due to panic attacks and anxiety-induced vertigo. “I felt like I’d hit rock bottom and had to get real help. I started seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist to help me understand the cause of my anxiety and find effective treatments in managing these symptoms.” During this time Camille stopped working and her parents took care of her. It was at this stage that she began talking more openly about her mental illnesses with friends and family members. This experience transformed Camille’s life. Through effective treatment, she has taken charge of her life and today is a successful human resources professional and is also studying a Masters in Brain Science.

“One of my great hopes is that more research into conditions like anxiety and depression will mean that a new generation of young women will benefit from treatments that weren’t available a decade ago.”

Camille is passionate about mental health research and advocates to improve awareness about the challenges facing many Australians. “When I was younger, a lack of varied treatments and limited community awareness held me back. I could have sought effective treatment earlier but I didn’t know how to do this at the time,” Camille said. “One of my great hopes is that more research into conditions like anxiety and depression will mean that a new generation of young women will benefit from treatments that weren’t available a decade ago.” “I’m getting behind Colour Your Hair for Mental Health because mental illness doesn’t discriminate. If there’s more research, there will be more treatment options for young people who may feel ashamed about what they’re experiencing and might not know where to turn for help in their hardest moments.”

She is also hopeful that research will help break down the stigma that still surrounds mental health disorders. Colour Your Hair for Mental Health is raising funds for life-changing mental health research into illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and bipolar disorder.

 

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