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Liv Phyland still remembers the exact 'heartbreaking' moment she decided that helping young girls with their mental and physical health was her calling.
The 30-year-old always had a passion for helping people, and studied psychology before moving into the health coaching space. But it wasn't until she started gaining a following as a popular TV presenter, that Liv realised how serious the youth mental health crisis in Australia was.
"It was 6am one morning, and I opened up my phone and I saw this huge message, and I sat on my bedroom floor and I just sobbed," the Girls Who Glow Co-Founder tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
"I'm so devastated that I don't still have that message, because it was a pivotal moment for me."
Liv, who at the time was working for ABC three, said as her profile in the teen-market grew, so too did the messages for advice and cries for help in her inbox.
"I definitely had this passion to help people and I knew that it was something that I really wanted to do, and I was connecting with a lot of people who were messaging," she remembers.
"I actually can't even tell you specifically what [this message] said but it was just what she was going through, with bullying and depression and everything, it was heartbreaking. I spent a really long time writing back and then I picked myself up and went for a quick walk before going into work."
With any message Liv stresses her first piece of advice for anyone struggling is to seek professional help, but the moment also saw her decide to combine her passion and contacts to create the Girls Who Glow workshops, alongside her friend and fellow media personality Teigan Nash.
"I just had this moment that I was like, why don't we create this full-day workshop to empower teens to live this life that they are craving to live, they just don't know how to do it. So that was kind of the defining moment," she tells us.
Liv has now also joined forces with MOOD tea, an initiative started by UnLtd, which is encouraging Aussies to purchase a blend with all profits going to fund mental health programs run by charities including batyr, Backtrack and The Sebastian Foundation.
Every day nine people in Australia die by suicide, with it being the leading cause of death for young people aged 15-44. With such alarming statistics, Liv jumped at the chance to get involved.
"I’ve now spent the last five years working with thousands of teens through Girls Who Glow. It has been moving and rewarding, but also incredibly eye-opening and heart wrenching. So many of these beautiful young girls, full of so much potential, are fighting a real battle behind closed doors," she says.
"I’ve partnered with MOOD Tea because there’s never been a more important time to shine light on mental health. To raise awareness, start conversations, break down the stigma and provide more support to those struggling. We can’t keep losing more precious lives."
Thanks to their workshops for example, Liv has seen first hand the impact any kind of support for teens can have in the mental health space, saying it's been "incredibly rewarding" to see some of the progress made by participants.
"Of course over the last five years, there's just been moments that really break you, and and it's especially the ones where it shocks you and it reminds you that you are never allowed to just assume or judge, because you truly have no idea what somebody is going through," she tells us.
"But as much as it's been heart-wrenching, it's also been incredibly rewarding, and always reminds me this is exactly what I'm here to do. I think in the lead up, it can be a huge process putting these events together and then in the moment Teigan and I just look at each other with tears running down our face and we're like, this is why we do it."
When it comes to the teen mental health battle specifically, Liv calls out one major contributing factor - social media.
"In one word, it is comparison," she adds. "And not just with looks, and it's with comparing your whole entire life."
She says the "unrealistic expectation" that everyone on social media is always happy puts way too much pressure on a young person.
"Not only is it unrealistic, it doesn't exist, that level of perfectionism doesn't exist, and I think that's what's been really hard," Liv explains.
"We are that bit older, I'm 30, and I still get sucked into that sometimes, and then think that when you're a teenager where you haven't had those formative years we've had, where we can sort of pull ourselves out and be like, 'oh whoa like that's ridiculous that actually doesn't exist',
"I think, you know, they are going through so much in those years as it is, and now you're scrolling and looking at these photoshopped photos where skin is absolutely flawless and the waist is cinched in and people are on never-ending holidays or whatever it is and, of course, you're never going to feel like you're enough."
Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.
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