Illustration of Jackie Thinking

Jackie is an active member of the Mental Health First Aider Network. With a lived experience of an anxiety disorder, and a history of mental illness in her family, reflecting on her journey, Jackie remembers the scarcity of resources growing up, and her personal quest to understand and cope with her mental health.

“I’m 57 now, but I realised that I had my first anxiety attack when I was 8 years old. I still remember what it was like back then, even as a kid.”

Jackie’s experience with mental illness has made her a passionate advocate for people living with mental health problems. She contributes to Beyond Blue’s Blue Voices, a volunteer community aimed at enhancing mental health services, policies, and programs.

As an adult, Jackie became interested in learning more about her own mental illness and how to support others who may be struggling with their mental health.

“A friend of mine mentioned Mental Health First Aid training, because of my studies in Public Health and Promotion and lived experience with mental health issues. I didn’t know a whole lot about it – and once I looked online, I found more information on the courses.”

“The reason I undertook Mental Health First Aid training was for my own personal gain, I wanted to learn more about my own condition and learning to live with anxiety.”

“When I completed the course, I thought ‘Wow, that was powerful’.”

Soon after completing her Standard MHFA training, Jackie has also completed Youth and Conversations about Non-Suicidal Self-Injury courses.

“I found all the courses brilliant. I really liked the creative side of the course material, such as the artworks and poems. It really helped give an idea of what people are going through, and shows their expression,” says Jackie.

Along with learning the skills to assist others, Jackie finds that the training helped her to become more attuned with her own mental health.

“I think my knowledge from my studies and from the Mental Health First Aid Training is helping me get through. I do a lot of art. I try to balance my work and personal life.”

Jackie reflects on her mother’s mental illness in an era where knowledge of mental health problems was limited, and stigma surrounding these topics was prevalent.

“My poor mother probably had bipolar, now that I look back at it. For many years I had to be there for her. She was always up and down.”

“I wish I had the training back when my mum was unwell, years and years ago. There’s a need to reduce stigma, and that’s where I can see the power in Mental Health First Aid training’

In addition to her advocacy and studies, Jackie channels her experiences into poetry and art. Alongside her Mental Health First Aid story, she shares her poem “Started when I was a young girl,” providing insight into her journey of growing up with an anxiety disorder.

“There’s a need to reduce stigma, and that’s where I can see the power in Mental Health First Aid training.”

Started when I was a young girl

Started when I was a young girl,
And stayed when I grew,
Sad and alone, as I kept it within,
It always had a hold, when I wanted it to go,
It always had a hold, when I wanted it to go,
I’d cry, please hold my hand
I’d cry please give me hope
All I wanted was to be free,
All I wanted was to be strong,
It always had a hold, when I wanted it to go,
It always had a hold, when I wanted it to go,
When a lesson, gave me hope,
That this can be broken,
It taught me to feel, and see what was real,
It always had a hold, when I wanted it to go,
It always had a hold, when I wanted it to go.

Boy and Girl Sharing Story Illustration

Have a Story to share?

If you’re a Mental Health First Aider with a story to share, we’d love to hear from you.

Simply fill out the form below to share your details and our team will get in touch with you to discuss next steps.

Read Other Stories

Explore our other stories below or go back to the MHFA Stories page.

Cecilia’s story

Cecilia’s story

Cecilia’s mental health story started when she was young, although like many others she didn’t realise it at the time. The turning point in Cecilia’s story came when she was in the middle of a Mental Health First Aid course.

Kellie’s Story

Kellie’s Story

When Kellie’s housemate came home from work, their behaviour seemed off. As a trained Mental Health First Aider, Kellie recognised something wasn’t right.

Illustration of Two Girls on Podcast Story
Leesa’s Story

Leesa’s Story

Leesa, a member of the Mental Health First Aider Network since 2021, combines her hospitality experience with a passion for mental health advocacy, hosting a podcast to share and explore mental health stories.

Illustration of Mental Health Story
Jill’s Story

Jill’s Story

Jill, a nurse and seasoned Licensed MHFA Instructor has witnessed first-hand the profound impact that mental health first aid skills can have on healthcare and communities.

Driving Blue Car Illustration
Harriet’s Story

Harriet’s Story

Harriet completed her Mental Health First Aid training in 2020. Her newfound skills were crucial when she helped a man in crisis, highlighting the practical importance of mental health awareness in real-life situations.

Learn about our training

Explore our range of course options to find the Mental Health First Aid training that’s right for you.

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