Grace D's Story

25 Jun 2024
Grace Draper, 27, from Melbourne, experienced mental health challenges during the pandemic. She accessed support through headspace, and found the help she needed to successfully juggle the demands of navigating her twenties, while managing her own wellbeing.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Grace Draper wasn’t sure what to do. She was excelling at university, but her further study and career plans were suddenly upended. Grace was aware that she needed support for her mental health, so she turned to headspace. 

At Grace’s local centre, she was able to access the headspace Work and Study Program, which combines both vocational and mental health support for young people.  

“I had a really positive experience with the program. Being able to receive professional guidance was empowering, and I felt like headspace understood what I was going through,” Grace says.  

The support Grace received instilled her with the confidence to apply for the headspace Youth National Reference Group (hY NRG).    

“I grew up in a family where mental ill-health wasn’t always discussed, although it was clearly present,” says Grace. “I wanted to join hY NRG to show other young people who are having a hard time that things do get better. 

"I know what it's like to lose a loved one to suicide. The experience compelled me to advocate for the mental health needs of young people, especially young men.  

"I want other young people to understand the important link between connecting with others and maintaining your mental health. It seems really simple, but we often forget there are people in our community who can support us," she says. 

Grace is now using her experience as a hY NRG member to help recruit and guide the next cohort of young people applying for the program. She is also a Peer Worker at Orygen, a youth mental health organisation, where she supports fellow young people to navigate tricky times. 

headspace is Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing early intervention mental health services to 12-to-25-year-olds.  

Join headspace for this year’s The Push-Up Challenge, and help raise funds to deliver vital mental health and wellbeing support to young people like Grace across Australia. Register today or donate to headspace

Read other stories of people who have been touched by mental health challenges here