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‘Dialogue and visibility was key to transforming my mental health’

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Just Like Us ambassador Rich Bartlett on how speaking in schools about his sexuality has impacted his mental health. WORDS BY RICH BARTLETT HEADER BY LIV LAWRENCE Many of the years I spent in secondary school were also spent hiding my true self.

I grew up in Australia where navigating the path to accepting my sexuality was not only rocky, but desperately lonely. The lack of representation both at school and in society more broadly made me think that it would be very difficult to ever come out, let alone live a happy life as an openly LGBTQIA+ person.

I remember living my life feeling like an outsider, as all the people around me knew me for a person that I was not. This isolation was not just about being different; it was about feeling fundamentally alone in that difference.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, I am finding that these memories have come into sharp focus. I can reflect on how far I’ve come, and what exactly made the difference.

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