Youthline volunteer Linda Vernon knows how it feels to be unhappy.
“In my late teens and early 20s I had a really difficult time with my mental health, and struggled with depression and anxiety. Through my recovery I had this idea of giving service to my community - that it would be beneficial for me and my wellbeing. And I liked the idea of counselling and helping people.”
But although Linda knew Youthline was there, she had never used the helpline herself.
“I think because of the kind of space I was in, I felt like no one would understand me. I was scared to reach out, like a lot of young people - because they don’t know what to expect or they think they’re going to be told what to do or told that they’re crazy.
I wish that I had known how client centred Youthline is. We don’t tell people who contact us what to do or how to live their lives or how they should feel, we’re actually there for them.”
Linda has been a volunteer since 2011 as a Helpline Counsellor, Governance Board Member, Personal Development Facilitator and for the last two years has been Clinical Liaison for Youthline Wellington.
She says its important, especially for young people, that their mental health is normalised.
“It’s ok to not be ok. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or there’s anything wrong with you. This is what I always aim to get across. When young people call in and want things to be fixed, sometimes it’s more about getting them to accept how they’re feeling. If you’re not in a good space and fretting about it, it’s going to make it worse.”
Outside Youthline, Linda facilitates rehabilitation programmes. She is also studying part-time for a post-graduate psychology degree. She says Youthline has helped shape her career.
“It’s helped me so, so much. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is how to be reflective, also the giving and receiving of feedback. In my professional life, those things are so important and I’m so thankful to have had such a solid grounding.”
If you'd like to volunteer with us, click here to get started!