BEND THE blues away
Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24 and mental illness is particularly prevalent on the northern beaches, with children as young as six-years-old reported to be self-harming.
Aloe swimwear founder and social media star Chloe Chapman turned to yoga to alleviate anxiety, and when a young friend committed suicide recently, she vowed to help the community.
As a result, the 24-year-old has teamed up with Modern Movement Yoga in Mona Vale to offer free classes to help bring the community together for a casual practice.
Narrabeen-based Chloe says: "A number of families close to me have been affected by someone young taking their lives and it's just heartbreaking. It's becoming more of an issue, especially on the northern beaches. I feel like people need to be able to speak but often don't know where to turn."
With an instagram following of 72,800, Chloe often posts photos In her swimwear and shots with surfer and DJ boyfriend Paul Fisher, but she thinks social media at times can have a negative impact on self-esteem.
“When I was in school it was very different," she says. “We didn't have Facebook until later on, or Instagram where people now compare how many followers they've got, and who's commenting on what. No one's lives are really that private any more. I've seen some girls even Photoshop themselves with skinny apps and you see them and think, 'wow, you are not that person that you're portraying yourself as'. That's what I think tears into girls, because they have these high expectations.
"I was kind of lucky to miss it but I’ve got two younger sisters and a younger brother and these social media issues are a lot more in their daily lives. It's very concerning. I had other worries when l was younger. I've always had bouts of anxiety, but yoga helps keep me calm.”
A growing number of studies indicate that yoga may be a beneficial treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and Modern Movement's owners, James Holdway and Rachel Borg agree.
“I used to work in the corporate world,” explains James, “and it was super stressful. Some friends recommended I get into yoga and I instantly got the stress management pay-off with it. There's two really strong elements, the meditative side and mental release, which helps release stress, and the strong physical element.
"It's a two-sided coin and when Chloe came to me about the prevalence of the mental disorder on the northern beaches with depression, deaths and suicides, there's a strong correlation and I thought it would be a great opportunity to be able to use the studio to do something good and make an impact in the local community.”
The classes, which take place at 4pm every Saturday, have approximately 40 spots and will be dealt with on a first come, first served basis. There is a gold coin donation, with all proceeds going to Beyond Blue.