While the issue of mental health in young people during the COVID-19 lockdown continues to dominate discussion among the politicians, there is one Port Stephens student trying to do something about it.
Huxley Rowe, a Year 10 student at Irrawang High School, has taken it upon himself highlight the importance of mental health by growing his hair, mullet-style, throughout September in support of Mullets for Mental Health, an awareness program from the Black Dog Institute.
The 15-year-old from Raymond Terrace said that he first heard about the fund-raiser during last year.
"I decided to do some research into it and discovered some 'eye-opening' facts around the problem, particularly in young people, and wanted to become involved."
Huxley set up his own fund-raising page at the start of September with a goal of reaching $500.
"I reached that target in the first week of fundraising, so I have pushed the target up to $750."
As of Monday, he was $25 off his second fund-raising goal.
Huxley said that mental illness was a serious issue during the COVID-19 lockdown and to assist his own mental health he keeps in contact as much as possible with family and school friends through social media.
"I have a lot of family in regional NSW and we do check in on each other wherever possible," he said.
"As for school friends, we can't meet face to face but we do try and have a chat online and keep an eye out for each other.
"I think the majority of people I am in contact with are doing OK but the constant changes [in restrictions] and the uncertainty of what lies ahead can be unsettling.
"I enjoy playing cricket but right now I am not sure if our season due to commence next month will go ahead or not."
Huxley said that he was a firm believer in educating the community on the impacts of mental illness in young people and what can be done to address the issue.
"During September we should be asking our friends RUOK, especially because of the pandemic when many of us are feeling a little blue. Big or little, male or female reach out and check in on someone you know."
Leading by example, Huxley says he is happy to grow his mullet and proudly encourages others to do the same.
If you would like to help Huxley achieve his goal, go to teamblackdog.org.au/fundraisers/huxleyrowe.
Donations will help the Black Dog Institute learn more about the causes of mental illness, and create evidence-based mental health tools that are accessible to everyone.
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