(Image: Salty Dingo)
Tahnee Bridson, mental health advocate and a psychiatry registrar and PhD student at Orygen, has been named Queensland Young Australian of the Year 2022.
Tahnee, who grew up in a small town in Far North Queensland, initially wanted to pursue a career in dance and music, but also had a strong desire to improve the wellbeing and lives of others.
“I saw first-hand the difficulties in accessing treatment in rural Australia so I went down the path of medicine and, eventually, psychiatry,” she said.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Dr Bridson founded Hand-n-Hand Peer Support Inc., a bi-national organisation that provides free and confidential peer support to health care workers in Australia and New Zealand.
Dr Bridson said she was very passionate about improving the wellbeing of doctors and medical students.
“I lost a colleague to suicide in 2016 who had saved the life of my father when I was a child. At the same time, I experienced my own challenges getting through the final years of medical school and realised how isolating it can be when going through hardship.”
At Orygen, Dr Bridson works with young people living with complex mental ill-health.
“In rural Far North Queensland I didn’t have the same access to care as others, and it meant travelling far away from home for treatment. I got to first work with Orygen as a medical student and was in awe of the model of care provided to young people,” she said.
“I’d always wanted to return some day so that I could help advocate for expansion of the Orygen services to more remote areas of the country.”
Dr Bridson is also completing her PhD at Orygen to determine the biological links between early onset mental illness and immunological changes, which may contribute to future treatment methods.
The Queensland recipients from each award category will represent Queensland in the national awards in Canberra on 26 January 2022.