There’s so much more to Harrison Kennedy than just good DNA.
The striking and impossibly stylish 20-year-old is revelling in his man-of-the-moment status, recently gracing the pages of fashion bibles like GQ and L’Officiel, wearing iconic brands like Gucci, Calvin Klein and Saint Laurent.
With close to 80,000 fans following his every move on Instagram, Harrison is using his platform to break down the stigmas surrounding mental health, with a new podcast called “Really Mental”.
Harrison dialled in from Europe, where he’s enjoying a working holiday.
TAYLOR: Hi Harrison, thanks for taking time out of your Euro trip for us. What’s your history with the lower north shore?
HARRISON: I first moved to Mosman when I was 15 with my family. The thing that attracted us to the area was the beaches and that it was close to the water—also, having a nice neighbourhood where you could walk the dog and grow up as young adults.
TAYLOR: Where did you live before Mosman? What was your journey like growing up, especially at school?
HARRISON: I was born in Sydney, then moved to Melbourne with my parents – and then we moved to the Gold Coast, where I lived for 12 years. I liked the Goldy, it was a good chill vibe for a kid. When we moved back to Sydney it was quite tough starting out at High School, but eventually, I found a group of friends and worked out what I wanted to do. Helping others has become very important because those teenage experiences shook me, but they also helped me understand myself better and grow up.
TAYLOR: What do you mean when you say ‘Those experiences shook me”?
HARRISON: I think when you’re a teenager and you move interstate, with all the changes that go with it is a very hard thing to do. Having to remake friends and ‘find yourself’ at the age of 15 is daunting. It’s a massive transition point in adolescence. I was alone and didn’t have anyone in my corner for a while. It was tough mentally and emotionally.
TAYLOR: Moving is tough on teenagers, there’s no doubt about that. Is this how the idea for the podcast came about?
HARRISON: Will Hyde, my closest friend and I have known each other for three or four years and the “Really Mental” podcast came from a casual conversation. The massive driver for us was COVID. Seeing so many friends struggling with lockdown was really frightening. Creating the podcast was one thing we could do to help them, to help other males. Not all men want to talk about their mental health, but by giving them a place to go and feel comfortable where people will understand and listen, they might feel less alone.
TAYLOR: Why is it so important to have an open conversation about mental health? How can we change it from being a taboo topic?
HARRISON: I think we’re getting there slowly, to a place where people feel comfortable about sharing their experiences. When you’re sick, everyone says, “Hey, do this, take this”, to fix yourself, but when you are not doing well mentally, people say, “I don’t know how to handle that”, and no one goes “hey try this, take this.” Getting to a place where we can suggest things like journaling, meditation and so on is where I’d love to see us get to. Our generation cares a lot about mental health and is willing to put the work in to get to that place.
TAYLOR: What’s the most worrying issue for young men today?
HARRISON: Each guy goes through different things. I think loneliness is something a lot of people, male and female, go through. Especially at our age, we’re the most connected we’ve ever been but also the least connected, and I think social media plays a part in that. When we see what everyone else is doing online, we feel like we are missing out. Loneliness is one of the worst and the most challenging emotions to feel because there’s nothing that can really get you out of it until you switch your mindset.
TAYLOR: A lot of parents also feel a bit lost these days. What’s the best advice for helping kids through adolescence and school?
HARRISON: My message for parents is to try to understand that it’s a very different world from when they were kids. Many kids feel like they must fit in, which was the same before but to a whole new, accelerated level now. With social media, set boundaries with your kids and have open conversations with them. At the same time, give them room to explore and learn and do their own thing. Teens don’t like being told what to do and want to figure it out on their own. I think it’s very hard for a parent as you want the best for your child, but it’s important to look out for them – but from a distance.