Trauma inspired a new look at living
DR EVE Hepburn freely admits suffering a series of traumatic events affected her own mental health. Her boyfriend dying in her arms when she was a teen, a breakdown after being bullied, and her step-brother taking his own life combined to take its toll.
But the former Edinburgh University lecturer, a native from the city, has used those events to make the decision to set up online magazine Fearless Femme.
She calls it her ‘antidote’ to traditional glossy women’s magazines, dedicated to boosting the self-esteem of young women and femmes across the country.
Eve’s academic career spanned positions in leading universities around the world.
But the thing that concerned her most was seeing more and more female students struggling with their mental health.
She says the challenges young women face today have never been greater – citing the likes of social media pressures, pressures to excel at university, the objectification of the female body, and an increase in sexual violence.
After conducting research into the mental health of young people, Eve was shocked to discover that almost half of young women – around 46 per cent of them aged 17-21 in the UK – have needed help with their mental health.
The statistics were compiled by the Girlguiding Association who are also looking into the subject area.
Eve said society really needs to pause for a moment and reflect on what is going on with age groups and gender when it comes to issues of mental health.
She said: “There is something fundamentally wrong in our society that so many young women, non-binary people and teenage girls are caught up in a cycle of self-hatred, depression and anxiety.
“And the most worrying thing is that they feel alone. Well, I want them to know that they’re not alone.”
Eve left academia in 2017 with the plan of what she was going to do next, and how that might manifest itself into something that would support those caught up in this category. She set up Fearless Femme as a social enterprise, whose main aims are to support the mental health of young women and non-binary people, to create a safe space where young women and femmes can share their stories, and to collate research in order to effect policy change.
Eve said: “We at Fearless Femme know how awful mental illness is. We know the pressures that are driving young women to self-despair. We are fighting back. We are creating something beautiful out of our pain. And we are trying to help each other.”
Fearless Femme held a launch at the University of Edinburgh last week which was attended by the Minister for Mental Health Maureen Watt and the university principal Professor Peter Mathieson.