Giving back to the community is important to Ray White Commercial Western Sydney, which is why director Peter Vines chose to partner with The Champions’ Nic Newling to share an important message around mental health with high school students.
Mr Vines and Mr Newling, who grew up together on the Northern Beaches, both share a passion for spreading mental health awareness to young people.
After losing his brother to suicide, and suffering his own mental health challenges, Mr Newling started The Champions in 2016 to share his story encourage helpful conversations around mental health, suicide prevention, and getting the most out of life.
Mr Vines said The Champions sent a message which was close to his heart.
“Mental health is a massive issue throughout Australia, and throughout the world, but I think, in particular, it’s a very big issue among our teenagers,” Mr Vines said.
“I think young people are dealing with a whole lot of their own sort of challenges in life and finding out who they are.
“Having had challenging teenage years myself, I thought the work Nic was doing and the message he’s spreading was incredibly important for people to hear.”
Mr Newling travels to schools speaking to students about mental health and the importance of reaching out.
“The message I try to bring to young people is that there’s so much more to mental health and mental illness than what we learn about in health science — there’s real people and real experiences behind those facts and figures,” Mr Newling said.
“I speak about what my experience was like going through school and being someone who was really into the academic side of it, but then, pretty early on in the piece, was sort of torn apart by being mentally quite unwell.
“And for the rest of my schooling years being in and out of hospital, and having to let go of all the things that I really looked forward to, and learning for the first time how to actually get help for all this stuff.
“Then, while all of this was happening, I suddenly lost my brother to suicide and had to grieve and try to learn how to cope — I wouldn’t have managed without support.
“So it’s about telling this story, not sugar-coating it, and discussing what people can do to help themselves and each other.”
Mr Newling said when he was at school and was struggling with his mental health, a lot of the speakers coming to his school were aspirational speakers in the form of Olympians and footy players as opposed to regular people he could relate to.
“They were people who were very much like ‘I climbed a mountain to overcome all these things’ and I sort of thought ‘well that’s not me, I can hardly get out of bed, so I can’t get on board for that’.
“I thought how can we convey that we all go through different stuff in our lives, and it doesn’t make us flawed, or weak or less of a person, it’s just part of human experiences.
“And when things get too much to manage by ourselves, let’s look at getting support through friends, family, and professional support services.”
Mr Vines said he’s funding The Champions to speak at up to 20 more schools every year in the Western Sydney area.
“It’s about participating in and giving back to the community,” he said.
“It’s helping him get Nic to speak at particular schools that might not have the financial means to do it, in the heartland of the area where we conduct all our business.
“The more people he talks to the more people he can potentially change their lives and change the lives of the people around them.”