OHO GLOBAL CITIZENS OF THE MONTH: ELIZABETH AND GIORGINA VENZIN
Happy October! It’s the month of Global Mental Health Day and for this month’s Global Citizen we recognise two deserving Australians for their efforts within the mental health sector.
This mother-daughter team, Elizabeth and Giorgina Venzin, help so many with their mental health through the non-profit organisation MindShift – the National Self Esteem Initiative.
Their mission to ensure every person has access to the resources available to help build self esteem, to have a positive sense of who they are, and to find meaning in life seems to be working wonders.
Meeting with mother Elizabeth and daughter Giorgina at their Brisbane-based Venzin Group Cafés – Paw Paw Café and Raw Paw Paw – it is clear they have so much pride in Giorgina’s family business and Elizabeth’s community initiative.
As MindShift Founder and CEO, Elizabeth explains that her reasons for starting MindShift went further than her own struggles with depression and anxiety: “I wanted to do something meaningful… and self esteem seemed to affect so many people in so many different ways,” she says.
MindShift Ambassador and Venzin Group Restaurateur, Giorgina explains that growing up with her mum, brother and dad all suffering from depression has given her unparalleled empathy and gratitude.
“It’s made me really strong as a person, it makes me aware when I’m going through something to see the signs…even with my staff members going through things, I can notice it,” she says.
What stands out about these ladies and MindShift is their capacity to reach so many people through social media, particularly with their Half Glass Full Campaign.
Giorgina uses her cafés to spread awareness and positivity by posting messages written on coffee cups to Instragram and Facebook.
She says, “Social Media is an avenue to connect with people.”
Elizabeth agrees: “As a non-profit we couldn’t get the reach that we get without social media, so it’s wonderful.”
On the contrary, both warn that social media can have a detrimental effect on people with mental health problems if not used for positive means.
“We did a talk at one of the schools in Brisbane and we asked, ‘what’s one of the main things that affect your self esteem?’ They said how many likes or posts that they get on Facebook,” Elizabeth says, exasperated.
So with many people feeling pressure to compare themselves to others and becoming too wrapped-up in their image online, how do we achieve a balance?
According to the Venzin family the answer is purpose.
“If you keep searching for happiness you’re never going to find it, but if you can find a purpose in your life and you focus on that, you will get that contentment you’re looking for,” Elizabeth says.
The excitement in Giorgina’s eyes and the passion in her voice grow as she describes her work and what she wants for others.
“I’m really, really, lucky that I’ve found what I want to do… It makes it easier, so I encourage others to find that,” she says.
It’s hard to achieve anything when all you think you deserve is less. That’s why, according to Elizabeth, looking for purpose and meaning will not only improve your odds of happiness but improve your self esteem as well.
Elizabeth pauses and smiles as she explains that the purpose of MindShift is simple:
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone could treat the person next to them with the same respect that they want to have themselves? We would have a much better world.”