Introducing Jessica Sturgess
We welcome our newest advocate!
Jessica Sturgess is the Community Engagement Officer for headspace Griffith and works in the youth mental health sector. Jessica is the proud mother of a beautiful two-year old boy and drawing on her own lived experience she advocates for and educates around perinatal depression and anxiety. While studying to be a psychologist, Jessica also sits on local committees ranging from social services to suicide prevention, which gives her a lot of insight into the various factors that are involved with mental health and management.
You can find her here: LinkedIn
Or on any of her & headspace's social media profiles:
Ready to meet our latest ambassador? Let's go!
Hi Jessica! Why is mental health/wellbeing so important to you and what made you want to become active in this space?
I am passionate about advocating and educating our community about mental health challenges and what it means to have good mental health and wellbeing because I have been on both ends of the spectrum. I lived through many mental health challenges, the most recent was navigating through postnatal depression and anxiety.
Right in the middle of that time, I realised that I wanted to make a difference in the mental health space, and if I could help just one person seek help before they reached the point that I had been at then it would be worth it. I now work in the mental health sector and am focusing on empowering young people to actively work towards positive mental health and wellbeing, when to seek help and be less apprehensive about accessing mental health services.
We heard you’re studying to become a psychologist! Is there anything in particular that made you choose this career path?
Prior to my role at headspace Griffith, I was working in marketing, and while I could see my hard work paying off, I didn’t feel fulfilled or like I was making a big impact on people’s lives. Just after I started seeing my therapist, I realised that was what I wanted to do.
My vision is to completely change the way our rural community views mental health, encourage the older generations to seek help so by the time our children are at an age where they start to encounter mental health strain, they are 100% open to accessing help.
You work for headspace, one of the leading organisations for youth mental health. Can you tell our readers a bit more about what your role there is?
I am the Community Engagement Officer for headspace Griffith, so I manage our marketing and events, liaise with other community organisations on how headspace can assist and get involved with what is happening locally. I sit on a variety of committee, including local interagencies/youth interagencies, our local Suicide Prevention Reference Group, as well as our Local Health Advisory Committee (LHAC). This allows me to find out what is happening across our region, network with other organisations and gives headspace a voice in our local community.
I absolutely love the role that I’m in, as it allows me to get out and engage with our local young people, hear their stories, find out what they love about Griffith, what we can do better and hopefully make a difference in their lives.
What do you think young people should be aware of when facing depression or anxiety?
I think the biggest things is understanding that you are not alone and it doesn’t make you broken or is anything to be ashamed of. It is very normal and acceptable to reach out and seek support. Also, that there are varying levels of support available, no matter what challenges you are facing.
What does becoming an ambassador mean to you?
Being an ambassador for ANZMHA allows me to access resources that improve the quality of my work, the most up to date information from the mental health sector and meet others who are doing amazing things in their communities.
It also gives me a broader network to reach out to, to bring relevant strategies to Griffith and allow us to help more people. It’s also an incredible opportunity, and I’m so proud to be a part of ANZMHA, after everything I’ve come through and what I’ve been working on, to be given an opportunity such as this is extraordinary.
Any words of wisdom?
If you are building a bridge over a raging river and you aren’t qualified, you would employ someone (or many people) to assist you create a sturdy structure that will still be there the next time you need it. The same goes for mental health, accessing a professional to assist you to develop strategies to manage your mental health is in your best interests, they can give you the tools that you need to be able to cope when life feels challenging and overwhelming.
Well said Jessica! 👍 Thank you.