Young people are equipping themselves with mental skillsets to fight anxiety, depression, and the barrage of distractions brought about by social media.
Wiradjuri woman Anna Gannon is travelling across the Riverina over the school holidays to teach lessons in mindfulness, which is the ability to tune out distractions, anxieties, and negative self-talk.
"Mindfulness is about being present in the moment without judgement and having a greater connection to self," Ms Gannon said.
"We crave that human connection and we've been disengaged from that, so being aware of what we're feeling, why we're feeling it, what we can do about it is really important for mental health."
Wagga High student Emily Jennings, 16, said mental health was a major problem in her hometown Leeton, which had been suffering from drought, financial hardship, and now lockdown.
"It's hard, especially seeing a lot of the community members disappear, moving to different towns because they have no hope for the town," Emily said.
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Her sister Jade said the internet was a major source of mental health problems among her peers, especially during lockdown.
"Social media does create a lot of anxiety in teenagers in this generation especially. Some of my friends can't even go up to a counter of a restaurant and order their own food," Jade said.
"I find these [mindfulness sessions] do tend to help. You learn how to cope with anxiety and a lot of stuff that teenagers nowadays are dealing with."
Cameron Huckel, 12, is one of the rare high schoolers without a phone or even a social media account.
"I started high school this year and everyone was always on their phones," Cameron said.
"I don't have a phone and I don't want a phone. You really don't need it."
If you, or anyone you know, suffers from depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, you can call the Accessline Murrumbidgee hotline on 1800 800 944, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467.
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