Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Helping other teenagers deal with depression - Bree wins local hero award

17-year-old Bree Hewitt won the Coles community hero award for the region and was runner-up in the State finals for her work with 'You Otter Be Happy'.

LIBBY PRICE August 8, 2014 4:00am

Bree Hewitt has been named the Coles Community Hero for the region for her outstanding contribution to the community, establishing a group for young people suffering from depression

Year 11 Benalla student Bree Hewitt has won the Coles community hero award for the region and was runner-up in the Victorian finals.

The award is for a Coles employee who has made an outstanding contribution to the local community.

Bree was selected from employees at 13 supermarkets in the region from Albury to Shepparton. She was nominated by work colleagues who heard of her commitment to You Otter Be Happy, a student-led group that formed last year to promote greater awareness of mental health and wellbeing within the community.

Bree has struggled with depression since she started school, although was not diagnosed until age 12 when she was being bullied at school in Corowa.

‘‘When I was maybe Grade 1 or 2, I went to school counselling, then out-of-school counselling in Year 5 and 6. Most of the time I didn’t want to get out of bed at all and would kick and scream when Mum tried to get me out of bed,’’ Bree said.

‘‘I’ve met a lot of people through my journey and they still need help ... so I felt like I needed to help others, that what I’ve gone through can help others.’’

Bree openly admits she became suicidal at the age of about 14, but that moving to Benalla so her mother could be closer to Bree’s grandparents has made a huge difference, as has making her family proud of her work with others suffering from depression.

‘‘Me and my friend have an Instagram page called sunken—suicide and it has about 12000 followers. We post photos ... like inspirational photos and captions and they comment that just having this account is ‘saving my life’.’’

Last month You Otter be Happy participated in Benalla’s first Youth Mental Health Awareness forum.

Bree has received $300 in gift cards and 40 hours of free work time to continue to support her comunity organisation.

You Otter Be Happy meets every Tuesday at 4pm in the Benalla Rural City Council chambers.

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