Before she’d even finished her first year studying psychology and counselling at UniSC, Kyara de Bruin scored a “dream job” working for a respected national mental health organisation.
“It’s given me a sense of purpose, being able to help people,” Kyara said, who is the Sunshine Coast facilitator for LIVIN – a suicide-prevention organisation that has enjoyed support from international celebrities such as Chris Hemsworth.
“In psychology we learn more about the clinical research to understand the brain, whereas in counselling it’s about person-centred approaches, so studying both feels like a good mix that works well together."
“I can apply what I’m studying to the LIVINWell workshops too, promoting the message ‘It ain’t weak to speak.'"
Psychology and Counselling program coordinator Dr Rachael Sharman said a lot of students opted to study the double degree because it allowed them to explore the human mind while learning the skills to promote mental and emotional wellbeing.
“This is a smart option for a lot of students because it gives them an excellent grounding in both theory and applied practice and expands their job opportunities – as Kyara has discovered,” Dr Sharman said.
Psychology and counselling are subjects Kyara said she’s “always been interested in,” growing up with the influence of her dad, a counsellor. However, it wasn’t until she travelled that she seriously considered pursuing it.
When she moved to London at 19, where she was working at a bar and restaurant, Kyara developed a reputation among her friends as someone they could turn to for emotional support and guidance.
“I made all these friends and we would finish work, have a drink together and talk about our days, how we felt about those days, and what we felt in ourselves in that moment. It was eye opening. I started chatting to people more and more, to a point where all my friends knew me as this person who would talk about mental health at any moment, advocating self-love,” Kyra said.
“It became a conversation I was constantly involved in."
“I thought, ‘Why not make this a job? Why not make the conversations I'm having on a day-to-day basis – which I really enjoy – my life?’”
After a few months studying psychology and counselling at UniSC, Kyara’s applied as a volunteer with LIVIN, a non-profit organisation set up destroy the stigma attached to mental illness after Gold Coast-based cofounders Casey Lyons and Sam Webb lost a friend to suicide in 2013.
Since then, the organisation has experienced fantastic growth and media exposure – particularly after Chris Hemsworth was photographed wearing a LIVIN hoodie on set of Thor in Brisbane’s CBD.
“I put in my volunteer application that I was into performing arts,” she said.
“They contacted me and said, ‘We’re looking for a facilitator on the Sunshine Coast, are you interested?’ I was like, ‘Yes, absolutely! It’s a dream job.’”
Kyara presents LIVINWell, a mental health education program designed to break the stigma surrounding mental health and promote positive mental health in school and work environments.
Kyara decided to study psychology and counselling at UniSC after realising she'd already gained a reputation among friends as a mental health advocate.
Kyara now presents the program for schools and workplaces, helping participants better understand mental health, recognise warning signs and symptoms, learn strategies to help themselves and others, discover where to get professional help and learn conversational strategies to drive stigma reduction.
“I was presenting at a middle school recently, telling a personal story about something that had happened to my friend, which was quite an emotional moment… and in the front row, there were four girls, and they all started holding hands."
“It was one of those moments where I thought, ‘Wow, this stuff really touches hearts.’”
Bachelor of Psychology (Honours)
Understand why people think, feel and behave certain ways in this program where award-winning psychologists teach you to treat abnormal behaviours and psychological disorders.
Kyara said one of the things she enjoys most about her studies at UniSC is being surrounded by “like-minded people.”
“I'm still learning, and I've got so much left to do. But I love learning the skills I need to work with children and adults discussing sensitive topics in an empathetic way, while staying true to myself and being able to help people.”
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