Growing up my aspirations were sky high, literally. You see, I wanted to be a pilot. No, that’s not correct. I was going to be a pilot. Everything I did was obsessively about achieving that goal – I was studying a Bachelor of Aviation and a Bachelor of Business and worked damn hard to get there.

Then, at 21-years-old, that dream I’d had for as long as I can remember was ripped away from me. I was told that due to a medical condition that dream was not going to become a reality.

I can’t even describe how I felt, I’m not even sure I could – I was completely lost. While I didn’t know it or understand it at the time, I had depression. People talk about pivotal moments in life, this was mine. There were two paths in front of me.

Option one: give up. Option two: step onto a new path.

I didn’t have the strength to choose anything other than option one. It was the easy option and the only one I felt I had the strength to do. Plus, I was angry with the universe. I couldn’t talk to family or friends really, pride got in the way. At that moment, I wasn’t willing to admit that I needed help, but I knew I needed to speak to someone.

I turned to Google. What I found was – an online mental health organisation for young people – and for me, what happened next was life-changing. ReachOut connected me with the help and the people that I needed – and that meant connecting with the people I cared about the most to support me. Now just a decade later, I can comfortably say that and I would not be where I am today without ReachOut.

Over the past 10 years this non-profit has grown to be a world-leader in youth mental health, and I am so proud to say that with the support of Telstra shareholders, their vital work is about to be amplified.

ReachOut has been selected as the official recipient of shareholder donations through Telstra’s Dividend Reinvestment Plan – or DRP – for the next two financial years (FY17 and FY18). When shareholders reinvest their dividends into shares, any residual amounts will be donated to ReachOut. Last financial year, these residual donations amounted to $590,000 for the Summer Foundation.

Here’s four facts that you might not know about youth mental health.

  • One in four young Australians are experiencing a mental health difficulty.
  • Two thirds of those who need help, aren’t getting it.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in young people.
  • More than 50% of young people turn to the internet for help when going through a tough time.

At Telstra, we believe in the power of technology and digital innovation to change lives. It’s a vision that we share with ReachOut.

Telstra shareholder donations will be invested into creating an intuitive service that empowers young people to take control of their mental health. ReachOut’s vision is to transform from an information-based service to an interactive service that engages young people to improve their mental health and well-being. I can’t wait to be part of it.

Mental health is an issue that we as a society still struggle with. We don’t talk about it enough. People don’t know how to react and deal with these issues, whether they are suffering, or have people around them who are. ReachOut is an organisation at the forefront of change and I’m thrilled that the organisation will be able to grow further thanks to Telstra shareholders.

For more information about ReachOut, click here.

For more information about the Telstra DRP, click here.