After mustering up the courage to share her personal story for the first time on stage at the Fraternity Club seven years ago Mind Blank founder Ally Kelly was motivated to write a book about her struggles with mental health.
Her family had not heard her story before that day at Fairy Meadow in Wollongong, NSW, in 2013 and she was fearful about sharing such details with them present. But confronting those fears and allowing herself to be vulnerable allowed Ms Kelly to realise being authentic was a her superpower.
Her relationships strengthened because of it. And looking back she is grateful for how that brave move has taken her to where she is today. And how it has enabled her to share more of her story in her autobiography Inca Warrior: A Journey to Awaking the Inner Voice.
Nearly 40 people attended her online book launch last week and the paperback is now available at amazon.com.au
In 2013 Ms Kelly revealed how before graduating from university she struggled with depression and a lack of self-confidence. And how after being named 2012 Junior Chamber International Australian Member of the Year many people were surprised to learn she had found her voice. She did it by discovery a way to help other people find theirs.
Ms Kelly spoke of trying to support herself financially while she established a not-for-profit organisation that uses theatre to help youth tackle depression and mental health issues. The idea came while she was in the second year of a creative arts and psychology degree and was seeking to combine her two areas of interest.
As a teenager Ms Kelly experienced the impact of depression on her mother and recalled not knowing where to go for help. But with the support of some friends an an anonymous Wollongong donor in 2011 she established Mind Blank theatre productions to give young people an opportunity to talk in a non-threatening environment.
"When I realised that theatre has the opportunity for engagement and social change I realised there were a lot of people who could learn from it".
Since Mind Blank was formed it has positively impacted thousands of young lives. Its success resulted in Ms Kelly being invited to speak on youth engagement to the Australian branch of the Psychology Association where she was told her idea could work internationally.
Mind Blank now has teams in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra. Ms Kelly said one of its most impressive collaborations has been with TeamHEALTH supporting young people in Darwin, Palmerston and remote communities surrounding Kakadu National Park.
The initiative won an award at the Mental Health Services Conference.
Mind Blank has als started conversations with KidzWish Foundation.