The dreaded times where I do need to jet off to Sydney, leaving my modest, yet comfortable apartment in St Kilda, I try to get a good piece or interview in during my stay. This week I was lucky enough to sit down with a bright young star. Former Beauty Queen, model, actress, philanthropist, fashion designer, successful business owner and start up CEO of a non-for-profit mental health NGO (just to name a few)
Stephanie Rose, at the green age of only 21, is aspiring to great heights. Her lofty ambition surpasses that of your average 21 year old making her the perfect interviewee for our ‘Power Woman Of The Month’
Representing all that a modern woman should be, not only is she classically stunning, but after only 10 minutes of chatting, Stephanie exudes humility, compassion and an almost debilitating aura that gives you the warm and fuzzies. Her presence is striking; she is impeccably groomed, sophisticated and modestly dressed.
She sips a chamomile tea as she explains she doesn’t allow herself coffee after lunch time, she orders and picks at a coconut praline and reaches deep into her stylish handbag to ensure her phone is on silent before the interview commences.
“(I feel) there’s just a lack of equity in the way we as a society look at mental health issues. We don’t want to fund it, don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to see it; the reality is that it is everywhere. I’ve seen many loved ones slip through the cracks in the system, I, myself have too. “
It’s a pleasure to be chatting with you, I know you must be busy so I so much appreciate your time!
It’s my pleasure, absolutely. I’m incredibly flattered you asked to speak with me.
Having achieved so much from a such a young age, being only 21 years old, do you impress yourself as much as you impress all of us?
That is a tough question, but I think, like anyone, there are days where I am content with what I have achieved. There are other days where I feel like I need to do more and work harder…I can be quite hard on myself. It can be difficult for me to put things into perspective.
I’m lucky enough to have a strong support network; I’ve surrounded myself with some amazing people who keep me grounded.
Let’s talk a little bit about Young Women’s Mental Health Support. You offer support to young women suffering from mental illness through a list of different services; What was it that inspired you to create YWMHS?
(I feel) there’s just a lack of equity in the way we as a society look at mental health issues. We don’t want to fund it, don’t want to talk about it, don’t want to see it; the reality is that it is everywhere. I’ve seen many loved ones slip through the cracks in the system, I, myself have too.
There is also still so much stigma surrounding mental illness that people who are in dire need of services and treatment are often too ashamed to seek it.
I’m trying to create a dialogue within the community, I feel so strongly about people speaking up about their mental health issues, seeking help and being able to access the support that they deserve through a range of services. That is also why I think the support groups are such a wonderful idea; people affected with mental illness can tend to feel alienated from the rest of society, it can be so hard to identify with certain ‘groups’ of people who they feel won’t be able to understand what they are going through.
A strong sense of belonging is vital in the journey towards good mental health; people need to feel that they are not isolated.
“I feel that good mentors have an ability to organize that which they have learned across very distinct areas and apply them to their work on a day-to-day basis. “
In your endeavour to form your NGO, what has been the biggest challenge you have had to take on to date?
There are two things that have presented themselves as significant challenges to date:
The first thing would probably have to be to balancing an overflowing plate. Sleep has become a bit of a foreign concept; between studying, running a start up business and YWMHS, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find time for myself; I’m still learning how to find that perfect balance.
The second challenge would have to be the fact that YWMHS is a project that is very close to my heart. The journey from conception to where it is now has been very emotional for me; there were certain negative ‘factors’ that were the driving force behind this venture.
The last 6 months has been a roller-coaster ride, I have really come a long way; I’ve been given the chance to work with so many wonderful and inspiring people through YWMHS. I’m truly humbled by my experiences.
I’ve discovered just how resilient I am and most importantly, I have learned to forgive those who do wrong by me, without reason, acknowledgment or an apology.
What advice would you give to other young women who are experiencing something similar to what you have?
I could think of no better answer than to quote Churchill – “If you’re going through hell, keep going”
What makes a good CEO/mentor?
I feel that good mentors have an ability to organize that which they have learned across very distinct areas and apply them to their work on a day-to-day basis.
I’m learning to differentiate empathy and compassion. Being empathetic and trying to walk in the shoes of the client/mentee not only causes me to lose objectivity, but it just is not possible to feel just what he or she is feeling as I am simply not them. Being compassionate allows me to sympathize with and feel concern towards the client/mentee whilst maintaining focus and objectivity.
Lastly, I feel that purpose is vital, it should be the anchor of whatever you’re doing. Purpose, resolution and harmony. Once you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, it allows you to connect your individual actions to a larger, deeper purpose.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I suppose I would like to be doing exactly what I am doing now, just on a bigger scale. I really just want to help people, hopefully I will be privileged enough to be able to continue my work with YWMHS.
Stephanie recently completed a course in counselling at Sydney University and is residing in Sydney’s North-West.
She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com for business related inquiries.