Nurturer, purpose-driven paths, breaking down stigmas.
When Nic Bloom finished his high school studies, he didn’t know that working in the mental health field was an option, let alone his purpose-driven path. This is despite growing up with a parent with a mental illness and an acute awareness of his feelings and the feelings of others. Although this passion was always lying beneath the surface, it took the tragic passing of a close friend in 2020 to ignite the fire that saw him quit his 9 to 5 and dedicate his life to helping and educating others.
Uniquely, Nic is forging his path from a number of different angles – as a facilitator, a mentor, as a speaker and as a friend. Each has not only provided him the opportunity to connect with a whole range of different age groups and backgrounds, from school kids to professionals, but also allowed him to share his own story and work through his own healing process.
I had a beautiful and expansive chat to Nic about this journey, how he navigates the ups and downs of working in the mental health and anti-bullying space, the power of sharing stories, and how he looks after his own mental health and that of those around him.
Nic Bloom is…
Oh, that’s a good question. I feel like I want to speak in third person for this. Nic is experiencing a lot of different ideas right now. Nic is a human being. Nic is a man who is very much in touch with his feminine, is quite sensitive, quite emotional. Nic is Jewish, which creates a very subtle pang of anxiety in his chest and throat. Nic is also from Melbourne, born and bred. Nic is also 30, and that’s something that Nic’s really excited about – it actually feels really expansive to play in that age and stage of life.
Nic is a loving partner, a very appreciative son, grandson, brother, and nephew, and also a very trustworthy and transparent friend. Nic wants to explore himself at 25. So, Nic at 25 was really in love with sport, in love with techno, a bit of a party boy, a traveller, and very much single and quite selfish in his pursuits.
Now, Nic is 30 and still loves all those things, and still is all those things, but perhaps in a bit of a healthier way. Nic is now putting others ahead of himself in a lot more situations, which ultimately is feeding back into the energy that is Nic. One way that Nic’s really doing that is through his work, which he feels very privileged to do. And that’s as a speaker, presenter, a facilitator, and an educator in anti-bullying, youth empowerment and mental health. And they are labels that Nic can’t pretend he doesn’t love to be labeled with and associated with.
Nic in third person now feels complete… I feel like that’s it!
That’s amazing, very comprehensive and it actually leads really beautifully into my next question. What do you do, and when did you realise that that’s what you wanted to do with your life? I know it has come from a very personal space, hasn’t it?
It has. There was a curiosity that started with me as a child because of the different battles and struggles my mum faced, but at the time it didn’t hit me so deeply and I wasn’t aware enough to act on it in the moment.
Throughout my twenties, a dear friend of mine had a lot of really complex battles and issues. And that sparked enough in me to want to learn about mental health.
Sadly, it took the passing of this friend from suicide in the middle of last year to step into this spacee professionally, and to make it my life’s mission to honor her legacy and to help people who are in need of help.
So, in some ways it’s been a lifelong journey as there’s been a lot of steps that have got me to where I was last year before my friend passed. It’s also amazing how many things have happened for me professionally between now and then, from when I left my old job and started manifesting this new life.
It must have been brewing for you in the background. That it was always there but needed maybe the right circumstances to fully form and come to life for you?
Yeah, it was there for me for many years. I volunteered with not-for-profits and I learned a lot about the mental health space – and I’d like to think I was trying to help people in my immediate circle – but I wasn’t really sure how to enter this world without a clinical background.
I didn’t even know the anti-bullying world really existed, and youth empowerment was this sexy space to me that I wanted to be in, or I wanted to want to be in.
Where are you working now and how did you figure out how to get into that space?
Well, the best way to describe it, is that I sort of just stumbled my way into it.
Some of the best circumstances happen like that!
For sure. After my friend passed, I did a workshop with an organisation, and then I did a course with another organisation, and both have crystallised into casual jobs with those organisations.
And then another one was basically just a stock standard application and interview, and another job I actually found through an AirBnB host. I had just struck up a conversation with her and it was simply the right timing.
I think the biggest thing for me though, was getting to a stage of acceptance that the job I was then doing was not what I really wanted to do. And once I let that go, it’s unbelievable how many things the universe started sending my way.
Clear those blockages, and all of a sudden opportunities abound! Can you tell me about the organisations you work for, what your role is at each of them, and how each role brings a different perspective to the narrative.
The first organisation I can mention is PROJECT ROCKIT, and we are this awesome organisation in the anti-bullying and youth empowerment spaces. We go to schools all around Australia and teach year 3-12 students about anti-bullying, whilst giving them a sense of empowerment around how to approach youth leadership and social issues.
How would you describe what anti-bullying is? Because I think we all know what bullying means, but I’ve never really heard that term before.
I think what it comes down to, is exposing them to concepts that they might not have been exposed to before, educating them to learn about those concepts, and then empowering them to actually find ways to act on it.
If I think back to myself as a young person, I had no awareness of these things. I was very naive. But even if I did know about it, no one gave me the tools on how to act on it.
So that’s the gap we’re trying to fill as an organisation – to really educate and empower. Because we’re not doing the work, they’re doing the work. We may be just going into a school for a 60 to 90 minute workshop. We can’t change the culture from inside out, but we want to give the students the tools for them to be the change makers within their community and within that school.
In that role, I’m a presenter, so I go into schools and I present the program and the content that’s created by PROJECT ROCKIT. The organisation’s been around for 15 years, and the CEOs are two absolute boss women, who both have an Order of Australia, are both incredibly humble and down to earth beautiful people, inspiring leaders, and that culture filters through the organisation, the presenters, and then out into schools.
What amazing role models to have!
For sure! The next organisation I can talk about is batyr, which is a mental health preventative organisation – by young people, for young people. And in that role, I’m a speaker. So as opposed to presenting, I share my personal experience – my lived experience of my mum’s struggles growing up, my friend’s struggles, my friend’s eventual passing, my perspective of it and my experiences through it all.
Hearing from a person who has that lived experience can be so much more powerful and connecting than just drilling information at people. It adds that extra dimension and perspective.
Definitely. And I think it’s important that both exist where possible. We want there to be actionable steps, but we also want that connection and relatability to show that if you’re going through an experience, you’re not alone.
I’ve been through it. Or maybe I haven’t been through it, but I know someone who has. So trying to educate, but also create that connection, give them permission and allow them to feel what they’re feeling and go through what they’re going through.
My third role is with Mental Health First Aid Australia, and for them I’m effectively a licensee.
Can you please explain what mental health first aid means?
So if you think about physical first aid, this is the mental health equivalent. I’m accredited to teach their material, which I deliver through a few organisations, to adults across corporate organisations, community groups, sporting clubs, and the like.
The course that I primarily deliver is the ‘standard’ mental health first aid course. It focuses on anxiety, depression, substance use, and psychosis, and what to do in crisis and non-crisis situations. It’s a 12 hour course across two days, so there’s a lot of content and it’s very adult content. At times, it’s very heavy.
What we’re trying to do is inform people on how to better their own mental health, but also that of their family and friends around them, and their communities and workplaces. We do this by presenting some confronting and difficult scenarios.
And for me personally, there’s a lot I’ve learned from this that has helped me when friends have leaned on me with serious concerns they’ve had for a friend, partner, ex-partner or family member.
From my experience working in big organisations, I would say the discourse around mental health and bullying and workplace harassment is getting better. It’s getting more visible, but I feel like it has a really long way to go.
When you’re in workplaces where you can tell people are a bit resistant or they’re not engaged, or they don’t quite see the importance of this conversation, how do you navigate that space?
It can present a challenge, both when going into a school with young people who might be underdeveloped in a certain area, or an older generation that has really strongly held stories and views on a certain issue.
What I try to do is connect with them at their level, with language that they can understand and anecdotes that are relatable to them. But I recognise as well that sometimes I go to a school and it doesn’t land that well, or sometimes I present to adults and they won’t have respect for me, or they don’t really care what I have to say or they don’t agree.
I’m just there to deliver the content as well as I can though; to be a vessel for the content and to make it as digestible as possible.
Have you found that to be a healing experience for you as well?
Yeah, I think so. Working in a purposeful, meaningful space is helping me feel like I’m righting some of the wrongs of my past. Also, it’s really healing to do my speaker gigs with batyr, where I get to share about my childhood experiences with my mother, who I love so deeply, and to reflect on the great place she’s in now.
And it’s also healing for me to unpack the experience of my friend and her tragic loss. It means that I don’t forget her and I’m able to honor her legacy and carry that forward. So, at times it’s heavy work, but it’s a piece of the bigger puzzle. Although it’s at an entry-level point in some ways, I still feel it’s valuable and I find it really meaningful.
How do you look after your own mental health?
That’s an interesting one… I think it’s a mixed bag of luck and hard work that I have very strong and stable mental health. I don’t know what kind of good card I drew, but I really feel like the universe is looking out for me.
Maybe your childhood experiences have given you that resilience?
Yeah, when I was very young, I was exposed to all different sorts of people from all walks of life through my mum. It actually made me way more tolerant and accepting of other people, way more open-minded and way more empathetic. And I think that’s something that my mother’s passed onto me. It’s been unbelievable reverse-engineered parenting and it’s helped make me who I am today.
In terms of answering your question though, for me, there’s a few different things I like to do. One is I like to talk, and expressing myself openly is something I also learned through my mum.
Have you always been a good communicator?
I don’t know if I’ve been a good communicator, but I’ve always expressed myself openly. I think I was pretty bad growing up, I was overly emotional, I was a bit of a brat, I was selfish. But I’ve got to give myself some credit for always expressing how I felt.
Now I’ve been able to channel that into a more healthy mode of delivery. I think the number one thing for me to ensure my health and wellbeing is in a strong place, is to talk about how I’m feeling.
I think beyond that, it’s really just listening to my body and listening to my intuition. What do I want, what do I need and what do I desire in this moment? And oftentimes it comes down to indulging myself in some way, shape or form, whether it’s going outside, or being in nature, being in the ocean, playing sport… Just doing something that I love.
Every day it could be different!
I think the biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone is to experiment and find what works for you. How can I fill up my cup enough so I can fill up the cups of others, and then in return, that fills up my cup and then we just go back and forth.
It’s that reciprocal, cyclical thing again, isn’t it!
Do you have some tips for people to have those conversations with people around them who might be struggling? How do we start those conversations, whilst also respecting people’s boundaries?
I think a lot of it comes down to consent and permission. Not everyone wants to take on feedback at all times. Sometimes people don’t want to take on feedback at all. So I think approaching a friend or a family member and saying, ‘hey, I’ve observed X, and with your consent, I would like to share that with you’. And if they say no, we can still show that we care and support them.
As a follow-up we can say something like, ‘we don’t have to have this conversation right now in this setting, but if you’re open to it, maybe we can do it in a couple of days or a week. Or we could talk about it at the pub, or we can go to the park and kick a footy’. Just finding a setting that is mutually safe and comfortable.
I’ve found that conversations while I’ve been walking, moving, have been some of my biggest breakthrough moments.
Yeah, for sure. So I think, if someone says no, it’s ensuring that they know you’re on their side and you’re supporting them indefinitely until they’re ready.
If they say yes, then I think the conversation has to be one that is filled with both truth and compassion. Let’s tell them exactly what we’re observing, but in a supportive way, in a loving way and in a solutions oriented way.
We might say, ‘hey, I’ve been observing you haven’t been doing X as much lately, and that you’re withdrawing a little bit socially… Is everything okay?’ And then from there asking follow-up questions, actively listening to their wants and needs, and taking a keen interest in what they’re saying. Not just asking the one question, but offering those follow-up questions, really showing an interest and letting them share about how they feel, letting them share their emotions.
Sometimes you just need to get something off your chest and you don’t even realise it.
For sure. I might sit there and ask that question and then someone can just vent for 20 minutes, and if that’s what they need, that’s what they need. But if they want dialogue or a two-way conversation, or maybe advice from my life experience, I’m happy to share that.
But yeah, I can’t tell people what to do. I can’t tell them what’s good for them. All I can tell them is what I’ve experienced and maybe that’ll help them on their journey
What are your personal goals for this year?
COVID is this lingering thing in my head, so it’s complicated to make any mid or long-term goals, especially in Melbourne. But assuming that it’s not a thing… my partner and I are moving to a new house. I’m really excited to do that – create our space and start the next evolution of our lives together. I’m also hopeful to explore other parts of Australia later this year with my partner.
I don’t have too many work-specific goals. Having multiple casual jobs means work comes and goes and chops and changes, but I want to be putting my front foot forward with every organisation I work for.
I’ve really upskilled in some different content that I can deliver in schools and in workplaces. Professionally, by the end of the year, I really want to get to a stage where I can start rejecting work because I’ve actually got so much on my plate.
The freelancers dream!
Haha, yeah! I want to stay in that expansive state as much as possible, whereby I’m just seeing the world as my oyster and I can kind of do whatever I want with it.
Yeah, that’s cool. And my favorite and last question, please describe your dream day.
I’m gonna shut my eyes for this one again… So starting my day, I would like to wake up in a cabin in the middle of the forest with my partner and we just wake up having a nice little cuddle, no alarm. Breakfast could be something light, fresh or fruity. Maybe then there’s a bath running, maybe reading a book, just something to kind of settle into the day.
And then I’m just going to skip straight forward to lunch, that in-between period will be some chill time, to prep me for the rest of the day! If I’m being semi-realistic, lunch would be some sort of buffet degustation, so I can just sample many foods.
Variety is the spice of life!
Yes! In the afternoon, I’d really love to have a mixed bag of things, like a cranking epic workshop in a school, where it’s high energy, high impact, high student engagement. And I just leave feeling buzzed. And with that buzz, I would go and play some sort of competitive sport. I love to play soccer, and get into my warrior mode, and get a bit primal and physical, and just release all that energy. If I have time, I’d love to go to a dog beach and the ocean afterwards to rest and recover, and I’d do it by myself.
I think it would be really nice to then have a family dinner, with the people closest to me and my partner. And then I think to cap it off, I would probably like to head to some sort of sharing circle followed by a conscious party or mini festival event, where I can have fun, get a bit wild, hang with my mates and have some nice deep chats along the way.
And then I think to wrap the night, I would just chill out with my partner, cuddle and sleep beautifully.
Wonderful. You really, really painted the picture there. I loved it.
Connect with Nic on LinkedIn here
See Nic’s media releases, interviews and content here
Check out Nic’s upcoming MHFA workshops here