Young Perth author and podcaster Meagan Dux’s online shop Meagan Jane Designs custom makes all sorts of goodies; such as masks, book sleeves, bookmarks and scrunchies in order to raise awareness and funds for mental health, with half the profits donated directly to Lifeline. MELISSA KRUGER spoke to Meagan to find out how she hoped her charitable endeavour would open conversations about mental health and change the way society approaches it.
How did you come up with the idea for Meagan Jane Designs as a way of helping to raise funds for mental health and mental health awareness?
I’ve suffered from mental illnesses myself and I’ve always wanted to give back to mental health charities. I’ve always been too ashamed to speak up about my battle with mental health, so now I always encourage people to speak up. I can’t really expect others to be brave and open up if I can’t do the same. I use Meagan Jane Designs to try to reach as many people as possible to raise as much awareness for mental health as I can.
You were reading a book when you had an epiphany about how you could start this business to help raise awareness for mental health. What was the book, and what was the epiphany?
I was reading two mental health books: Mum I Wish I Was Dead (by Adam Schwartz) and Reasons to Stay Alive (by Matt Haig). Both books focus on mental health, mainly depression and anxiety, and it’s through reading them that I wanted to do something positive like Adam and Matt had done. I had the epiphany about custom designing items such as bookmarks and book sleeves as I closed the books and put my paper bookmark in them.
You’re an author yourself. What are some of your favourite authors?
I love Colleen Hoover. She has the most incredible way of telling stories. I also really love Stephen King. Matt Haig writes incredible books about mental health, which I’ve found has helped me heaps.
Why did you choose Lifeline as a charity to help you achieve your goal of raising awareness for mental health?
I’ve used Lifeline’s services many times when I’ve been in a crisis and didn’t feel like I had enough strength to reach out to my loved ones. Lifeline, unfortunately, doesn’t get as much funding as some of the other mental health charities, and as I’m born and raised in WA, I wanted to give back to the Lifeline centre here in Perth. Lifeline relies on community support and donations, so it’s my absolute honour to be able to do my part to help so they can continue offering their services to people who need it.
In a perfect society, what does mental health awareness look like to you?
That’s a tough question to answer. In a perfect society, it would look like people not being judged or made to feel like they’re less of a person because they face life with mental health struggles. Most people, if not all people, will face some kind of mental health problem in their life, but for some people, like me, it’s a lot more intense, and unfortunately, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health. We’ve come a long way in our acceptance of the importance of talking about mental health, but there’s still a long way to go to make sure we support those who need it.
What are your top five quick strategies to cope during a particularly difficult moment?
When I’m struggling, I do a few things; I put on some music, I close my eyes, take lots of deep breaths and focus on the lyrics that I can hear. I also pat and hug my cat, which helps immensely. Usually doing those things help me enough to get myself grounded.
There’s a competition on at the moment where people can win some of your wares. Tell us more about what you are offering…
I’m excited to be offering a little bundle containing a face mask or a book sleeve, a bookmark, and a scrunchie in any of the fabrics available through Meagan Jane Designs.
My ultimate goal with Meagan Jane Designs is to raise as much money for Lifeline as I possibly can. I am eternally grateful to anyone who supports me, whether it’s through buying something, sharing a post, or following the Meagan Jane Designs socials. I appreciate it so much and words can’t begin to sum up how happy I am to be raising money for such an incredible cause. I’d also like to encourage anyone who feels like they can’t speak up that it is absolutely okay to not be okay. There is always light in the darkness.
Lifeline: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
BeyondBlue: 1300 22 4636 www.beyondblue.org.au
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78 www.mensline.org.au
Suicide Callback Line: 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au