For Troy Wood, it was sometimes "isolating" growing up as a LGBTQIA+ young person in South West WA, and this Mental Health Month he is encouraging others to look after their mental health and seek help if they need it.
"Living in less metropolitan areas, living regionally in the Pinjarra as well can feel really isolating at times," Troy said.
"It can feel really daunting as a young rainbow community member - the mental health impacts that has on someone is really worrying."
The 17-year-old is studying for a Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work. He is a youth consultant with the Youth Affairs Council of WA and working on the youth strategy for City of Fremantle. He is also a youth advisor at Headspace Mandurah and a board member for Pride in Peel.
Due to discrimination and stigmatisation when he was growing up, Troy experienced mental health issues including suicidal ideation.
Thanks to a friend from the LGBTQIA+ community who accompanied Troy to a mental health clinic, he was able to seek help and begin his journey towards understanding where his issues stemmed from.
"I didn't know what was happening and I didn't know why I was feeling this way and that combined together and made me feel like I didn't know if I wanted to be here," Troy said.
"I sought support and got counselling and started unearthing those challenges and connecting-up with support networks."
Troy, who lives in Halls Head, doesn't want any other kids from the LGBTQIA+ community to suffer in silence. He said young people were facing discrimination "on a daily basis".
Troy said LGBTQIA+ depictions in the media - particularly in films - often didn't "tell the whole truth" and portrayed "stereotypes" instead of real people.
"I would love to see us represented as humans and we're just as diverse as everyone else," Troy said.
He encouraged young people to "reach out [for help] if you're feeling anything negative".
"Even if you have the smallest little issue, we have so many services out there that are happy to listen to you. Support each other - if your friends or family member isn't doing too well, ask them if they're OK. It may save a life," Troy said.
Troy is one of seven LGBTQIA+ young people participating in a Y WA mental health campaign, a video series called Inside Our Minds.
In it, each young person - aged between 16 and 30 - openly and honestly shares their struggles and learnings associated with their mental health issues due to their struggles with inclusivity.
The videos are shared on the Y social media account for Mental Health Week.
Y WA CEO Dr Tim McDonald said: "This year's participants have shared their journeys in a transparent and brave outpouring of emotion, and they have the real potential to connect with others experiencing similar issues in a profound way. We are sincerely grateful this courageous group shared their experiences purely for the benefit of other young Australians."
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