Bec Cameron Neser was 13 when she was diagnosed with severe anxiety, but her mum Kate Neser says she had been dealing with it long before they "realised something was really wrong."
"There was an evening she was sobbing at me and telling me she couldn't get the voices in her head to stop screaming at her, which was when I realised this was quite serious," Ms Neser said.
As her mental illness worsened while Bec navigated high school, she began to self-harm and Ms Neser took time away from work to be there for her daughter.
"If she was at school she would very often have panic attacks and have to come home," Ms Neser said.
"I would always have the phone next to me and was waiting for the call from the school and would jump in the car and go and get her.
Ms Neser glows with pride for her daughter, who despite having a panic attack every time she stepped into a high-school science lab, finished year 10 top of her class, setting her up for her dream career as a vet.
This year she finished year 12 despite missing weeks of her final year while she received treatment for an eating disorder in hospital, and the pandemic wreaking havoc globally.
"I think she is pretty extraordinary," Ms Neser said.
Through that difficult period, Ms Neser found her own mental health suffered and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I was overreacting to little things that would go wrong because I was living in such a state of high-arousal and anxiety myself," she said. "I've had several years of seeing psychologists myself."
A couple of years ago Ms Neser started sharing her story in the hope it would help just one person who might be going through a similar experience.
Ms Neser and Bec were at a volunteer expo looking for opportunities for the teenager to get involved with animals. The professional coach loved telling stories, and thought their journey could help others.
She joined Mental Illness Education ACT immediately, alongside others who tell their experience to teach students, teachers, parents and workers about mental illness.
As Bec explains it, "I struggled with this and I sought treatment and I'm better now". Bec leaves the storytelling to her mum but is glad her experience can prove to other kids they are not alone.
After speaking to a classroom of young teenagers, Ms Neser said knowing she got through to one student was the best feeling.
"If all I've done is reached one student in this class then that's worth everything and that student might seek help who might not have beforehand," she said.
The isolation and loneliness entrenched in COVID-19 lockdowns shone a new light on mental health, one Ms Neser says was already getting brighter.
"Before we went into COVID you would see personalities, policitians, people in the media who would tell their story and say 'I'm stepping down, seeking help for mental illness'," she said.
"The fact so many people are living with such hard circumstances at the moment, if people are experiencing something they're more likely to speak about it."
But despite a fresh perspective, accessing help particularly for young Canberrans has never been more difficult.
"All the psychologists have got really long wait lists. An adolescent psychiatrist in Canberra, it's almost impossible to get onto anyone's books," Ms Neser said.
Ms Neser's advice to anyone struggling with mental health was don't give up, keep persisting and advocate for your needs.
"Keep seeking help until you find the right people for you - the good people are out there," she said.
"Go on waiting lists, don't just give up because it's too hard. Make sure you keep looking for help."