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Our Region, Our People: Meet Marianna

Published 20 May 2024

Cairns teenager advocates for young people experiencing social and emotional wellbeing challenges

Marianna attended counselling through the NQPHN-funded Indigenous Mental Health program, which is delivered by Ngak Min Health.

A poem that powerfully advocates for young women’s radical self-acceptance and love towards themselves and other young women has shown the positive impact of counselling for a Cairns teenager. 

And while the author, a 16-year-old school student at the time, wrote it for herself as a way to cope – she also wrote it for other young women facing their own self-love and acceptance challenges. 

“I wrote what I always wanted to hear growing up,” she said. “But there are so many girls like me who believe they are not capable of self-love. 

“But they are, and this poem expresses what I wish I’d believed when I truly thought I wasn’t capable of love.” 

Marianna regularly attended school-based counselling through the Indigenous Mental Health program to overcome social and wellbeing challenges impacting her life. The Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) funded program is delivered by Ngak Min Heath.  

During her final session, Marianna shared a poem that she’d written for a school project with her counsellor. 

“I had been feeling really angry and guilty, and started writing about those feelings, which helped me understand them, but didn’t make me feel good,” she said.  

“I thought, why write a story that brings me down, when I can create something that lifts people up? That’s when I started writing the poem – and I finished it in one English class. It just felt right. 

“I find writing down my feelings, to look back on them or just throw them away, helps me get everything out and is a helpful way to cope.” 

Writing down her feelings was a technique she learned while working with her Ngak Min Health counsellor. 

“Working with Ngak Min was different compared to other councillors I have spoken with,” she said. 

“To start with we mostly talked about Stranger Things, but I was soon able to open up about more personal things in my life that normally I wouldn't tell anyone. 

“I have always been a self-aware person, but I tend to deal with my problems on my own. 

“Over time, I found it easier to talk with my counsellor and loved our sessions because it was a time where I could speak openly with someone who really listened.  

“It was a safe space and I still use some of the skills and advice I learned.” 

Mariana now feels happier in her life.  

“Life hasn't got easier, but I've been keeping it steady and learning to love myself more every day, and I try to spread this love to as many people as I can,” she said. 

“It's still a work in progress, but I’m doing really well and instead of worrying about everyone else and what they think of me, I've been busy looking after myself.” 

It’s this self-love and wanting others to feel the same that Marianna’s poem stemmed from. 

“Writing the poem was really the start to having true self-love and is something I wish I’d had when I was younger,” she said. 

“That’s why I tried hard to write it to stick in the reader's head, and so they can feel empowered.” 

The poem Marianna wrote while attending counselling though the NQPHN-funded Indigenous Mental Health program.


Last updated: 20 May 2024