NeuRA researcher, Abigail Hansen, has conducted studies in medicine, mental health and ageing.
As a researcher, Abigail knows first-hand the valuable role research has in improving treatments and empowering people. She also knows, from a clinical standpoint, how desperately needed better mental health outcomes are.
However, the most enlightening experience for Abigail was outside of work, when she encountered mental illness personally.
“In 2015 I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and anxiety, which took me two years to recover from,” Abigail said.
“It was a very tough time in my life. I had a newborn baby, a toddler and I also had a husband with depression,” she said.
Abigail’s diagnoses were not foreign to her, as she had witnessed others around her endure similar conditions. But she was left feeling isolated and unable to connect with people nonetheless.
“One thing I found particularly difficult was that not many people seemed to understand what I was going through, or they weren’t willing to talk about it,” she said.
“For something that is so common, I really feel that mental health still has a big stigma attached to it,” she said.
To reduce this stigma and to support others who are yet to overcome or even encounter mental illness, Abigail and her team (the Rainbow Angels) have signed up for NeuRA’s Colour Your Hair for Mental Health campaign.
“My main motivation for doing the Colour Your Hair fundraising challenge is to really open up those communication channels with people around me,” she said.
“I’ve learnt a lot through my own struggles and I’m now at a place where I can talk about it,
I see great benefit in sharing my story to help others. At least, at a minimum, to let them know that they are not alone,” she said.
Abigail’s goal is to raise $2000, but with the fantastic support she is receiving, it is likely to be increased!
“It’s also been a fantastic way to connect with staff and a lovely way to bond. Especially as we are all sitting at home, working individually,” she said.
“If you have a niggling feeling that you could do it, just jump on board! People do want to talk about it. It’s just a matter of taking the first step, sometimes,” she said.
Colour Your Hair for Mental Health is raising funds for life changing mental health research into serious diseases like anxiety, bi-polar and schizophrenia.
Help people like Abigail by donating now.