When it comes to the power of an open conversation no one knows better than UNICEF Australia’s Young Ambassadors.
Recently, our incredible team of young advocates had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Arlo Parks, award-winning musician and UNICEF UK High Profile Supporter, while she was here on tour in Australia.
Here’s how it went...
How important is our mental health as young people?
Arlo: I think for me, mental health is what got me into working with UNICEF and it's just been one of my core focuses from the very beginning.
It's about making mental health support more accessible, something that everyone can tap into. Mental health problems don't discriminate, and everyone has a mind to take care of.
I think having accessibility, in terms of what people learn about school and learning how to self soothe, meditate or just process their emotions, is something that hasn't quite yet penetrated certain communities. Therapy is still very expensive and still feels quite exclusive.
"I think trying to facilitate mental health support to be something that everyone can have access to is important. "
How do you balance your personal life, career and mental health?
Finding community is something that makes you feel stronger. Growing up, I didn't have that many friends but through music I found community, it made it [later fame, life] easier. Starting to do music also gave me confidence and led to my sense of identity.
“This is who I am, and this is who I love” was my mantra, made me feel stronger and more confident to be myself.
But people who have success still struggle. Writing, making and listening to music has been one of the biggest kinds of therapy for me, and it's something that anyone can do. I think when I found out about how therapeutic journaling or writing a song or poem could be, I was like, “wow.”
A lot of people feel maybe it’s not for them because of the kind of literature that they learn at school or because they don't know how to do it. That's something that I want to do more of, working with young people, doing workshops to explain how I do it [take care of my mental health and wellbeing] so they can try it themselves.
"I really loved meeting Arlo today. She spoke a lot about surrounding herself with an honest, good group of people so that you have support to be true to yourself and achieve all your goals and dreams, no matter what. This really resonated with me and every Young Ambassador in the room."
"Arlo highlighted how important it was that we put mental health above anything else. We can do all these things for other people in our lives, but if we don't look after ourselves, we can't be our best selves. She gave examples about meditation, reading books, going for walks with her dog, putting on a podcast and cooking yourself a meal. It was insightful, not only into her personality, but about things that we can apply to our own lives to practice mindfulness."
As a young person, what's your vision for the future?
I'm extremely optimistic. It's difficult to sometimes when you're looking at the news, and you're seeing everything that's happening. But the real change comes from people.
I found talking to the Young Ambassador's really inspiring. I think the beautiful thing was seeing how they had transformed their difficult lived experiences into a real desire to make things better.
The people that I'm meeting made me feel so hopeful about what's to come. I think that real sense of empathy, of people being so selfless, wanting to make change off their own time, off their own back, it makes me hopeful for the support that the next generation is going to have coming up. Hopefully the world's a better place for that.
"It was a fantastic experience; Arlo was so down to earth! It was very refreshing, and we had some very productive conversations about identity, racism and advocacy. It's really changed our perspective on what it means to ‘make it,’ to be successful whilst continuing to make positive impact in our communities and the broader world."
Stay up-to-date on UNICEF's work in Australia and around the world
15 Nov 2023
Childhood homes lost in a changing climate
Through no fault of their own, children and their families are being forced to leave the familiarity of their homes in search of food, water, and security.
27 Aug 2023
Meet Tony, a dad from Vanuatu who did all he could when his newborn twins were in crisis.
24 Aug 2023
Five ways you can support LGBTIQA+ children’s mental health
This Wear it Purple day, find out how you can support and celebrate diversity.
14 Aug 2023
Three innovative ways UNICEF is taking climate action
Three innovative ways you are ensuring children inherit a greener planet where they can reach their full potential
6 Aug 2023
Burundi: the country where young people are leading climate action
From rocket stoves to sustainable agriculture, young people are shaping futures for the next generation
4 Aug 2023
In photos: six months of rebuilding lives in Türkiye and Syria
It has been six months since the deadly earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria devastated children and families. See their journey from heartbreak to hope thanks to the ongoing support of people like you.
4 Aug 2023
Aussie artist Ken Done has spent the past 35 years as a UNICEF Ambassador
Ken Done is the kind of guy that can put a smile on anyone’s face. He’s warm, funny and a world-renowned artist, hailing from Sydney’s North Shore.
27 July 2023
Meet three Team UNICEF City2Surf superstars
Our supporters are lacing their sneakers and hitting the ground running for City2Surf in support of children worldwide.
23 July 2023
How birth certificates can unlock education for Aussie kids
Registering a birth is more important than ever.