Alongside serious personal issues, throw in the pressures of the constantly refreshing feed of social media as well as things like friendship trouble, exam stress and time management and you have a cocktail of issues that are affecting today’s youth. And in a world where many younger girls still feel like they can’t express their feelings, it can be seriously detrimental for their mental health. Having seen this effect first-hand through her work as an accredited counsellor, Danielle Demourtzidis has started The Girl Gang Wellness, an ongoing series of workshops aimed at providing a safe haven and promoting open communication as well as providing positive peer influence for girls.
“Being a mother, a sister, an aunty, an accredited counsellor and having extensively worked with teenage girls, I’ve seen first-hand that teen girls are now facing more pressure than ever before,” Danielle explains. With a background in Psychology and Counselling as well as years of experience in working with teen girls at a local high school Danielle has seen it all. “The number of students falling victim to depression and anxiety was overwhelming,” she says.
So she started running a series of workshops in schools that targeted these issues and offered education and further support, which received really positive feedback and served as inspiration for the start of The Girl Gang Wellness.
But while people are more open to the idea of talking about mental health, there’s still a misconception that it isn’t somehow as serious as physical – or rather visible – ailments and that you can just ‘pick yourself up’. So for Danielle, the workshops are really all about educating both the teens and their parents, and to provide young girls a safe outlet to express themselves, learn new coping mechanisms on how to deal with anxiety, self-esteem, body image and more.
“I strongly believe education is the key,” she says. “While adolescents are known for their emotional ups and downs, it is important not to dismiss a young person experiencing emotional or behavioural difficulties as a ‘typical teenager’”.
“It may be that there is something more significant occurring where a young person can benefit from additional support for their mental health and wellbeing,” Danielle continues.
On the detrimental nature of not being able to switch off in a digital age, we ask her whether social media is something she thinks that we – and younger girls – need to start actively avoiding. “It’s unrealistic for teens to avoid social media completely,” she says.
“Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat amongst many other social media platforms are definitely a great communication tool when used in moderation but when they’re used to breed narcissistic tendencies…the issue is that they validate themselves and their self-worth by the number of ‘likes’ received from others, rather than how they perceive themselves,” she explains carefully.
The highly-anticipated launch of The Girl Gang Wellness takes place next month right here at home and with a very special guest, digital influencer Elle Ferguson. As to why she’s chosen the social media star as her first ambassador, Danielle says that she’s just amazing. “There’s so much more to her than meets the eye,” she explains. “We will chat about the struggles of social media, how she has dealt with tragedy, her wellness routine and so much more…I don’t want to give too much away but I know people will understand why I chose her once they hear her story at the launch”.
Danielle encourages parents to come along to the launch as well because they can see first-hand why they should send their daughters to the workshops, which will also spend some time focussing on advice for parents. “We have an amazing psychologist who will spend time talking about the difficulties parents face when raising teens because let’s face it – parents need guidance too,” she says.
“We are also introducing mother/daughter workshops because often this relationship between a teenager and her mother can be tricky to navigate but when nurtured can have a positive effect on self-esteem among other mental health aspects”.
As for what’s on the cards after the launch, Danielle says it’s all about growing their private workshops and looking after the gals. “Each month we’ll host workshops in various locations around Adelaide with amazing educators,” she says. “2019 will also see The Girl Gang Wellness workshops being offered in schools as well as establishing our one on one counselling service to teens that need a little extra guidance between workshops”.
The Girl Gang Wellness Launch is on Sunday, June 3 from 1.00pm-3.00pm at Palace Nova Cinemas, 98 Prospect Road, Prospect.
Tickets are available here.