One of YouTube’s Rising Stars Showed Us What It’s Like To Burn Out At 19

One of YouTube’s Rising Stars Showed Us What It’s Like To Burn Out At 19

Elle Mills has had a hell of a year. After finishing high school and being voted most likely to be a YouTuber, she decided that’s exactly what she wanted to do.

Even though that was only a year-ish ago, she’s already scooped up 1.2 million subscribers and developed an amazing pieced together, cut and paste style of storytelling. She even took out the Shorty Award for Breakout YouTuber in 2017. She’s rocketing to the top and ain’t nothin’ you can do it about it!

Heads up: This article and the video within it discuss and describe mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

The 19 year-old found success by putting some of the biggest moments of her life on YouTube for the world to see with videos about her first kiss and her experience coming out to her friends and family. Both are beautiful and emotional watches by the way. Recommended.

She’s worked damn hard for the success she’s achieved. Over the past year she’s uploaded more videos than I can count and achieved a level of success I think a lot of people would really aspire to. But it’s come at a cost for Elle.

A few weeks ago now, Elle uploaded one of the most heartbreaking and beautiful videos I’ve seen on the platform. It’s called “Burnt Out At 19”. I could spend a lot of time writing a summary of what the video is and why it’s so important. But it speaks for itself.

Elle’s videos are all designed to be relentlessly positive. She says so herself: “My videos usually have an all is well and good in the world kind of ending, but this video doesn’t have one.” This video is something else. It’s a wake up call. It includes an unbroken clip, where Elle is just talking to herself. Trying to put the pieces together in her mind of what’s causing her to feel what  she feels:

“This [career] is all I ever wanted. And why the fuck am I so unfucking unhappy? It – It doesn’t make any sense. You know what I mean? Because, like, this is literally my fucking dream. And I’m fucking so unfucking happy. It doesn’t make any fucking sense. It’s so stupid. It is so stupid.”

The idea of burnout has been prevalent in the YouTube community for a while, and Elle’s video will join a chorus of other YouTubers who have spoken up about the toll that being “on” for so much of their life. I don’t mean to take away from any of these other YouTubers’ experiences, but I think there’s a difference between other YouTubers and Elle Mills. Her video speaks to a generation.

A generation of young people who have more pressure on them than ever. I see it all the time with the high school students I work with here at FYA. Nearly every week I chat with high school students about what’s going on in their lives and the most common thing I hear from them is that they’re stressed. Stressed by the pressure of high school, by the expectations of success placed on them by parents and schools and stressed by how difficult it is to live a balanced life.

The stress of young people comes with good reason, with our latest report showing that the reality of being a young person looking for work is far from easy. With nearly 60% of young Australians aged 25 holding a post-school qualification, however half of them are unable to secure more than 35 hours of work per week. Additionally The amount of young people reporting mental health issues is increasing. Mission Australia are reporting that in 2016, 1 in 4 young people aged 15-19 met the criteria for having a probably serious mental illness. The numbers are even worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, with 3 in 10 meeting the same criteria. These statistics aren’t great, but that’s why this video from Elle is needed.

Elle isn’t afraid to show that she’s going through a tough time. It’s a realistic depiction of mental illness. But she’s dealing with her illness, leading by example and using her platform to demonstrate to her 1.5 million fans that what she’s experiencing, and what the viewer might be experiencing, is normal.

Elle’s also getting help. In the video she talks about her first therapy session and her plan to keep going with her treatment. I hope that’s something her massive audience of young people, potentially experiencing similar stresses, can take from Elle’s appeal. She’s getting the help she needs and she wants you to do the same. “If anyone watching is also struggling with their mental health, I encourage you to go talk to someone. Anybody, because, It will help more than you think.”

Love you Elle. Hope your road to recovery is as smooth as possible, take all the time you need.


If reading this article has brought up some uncomfortable feelings for you, you may want to reach out to one of many free and confidential mental health services over the phone or online. If you find yourself or someone you know in need of more support you can contact Lifeline (Ph: 13 11 14) for suicide prevention, Beyond Blue (Ph: 1300 224 636) or Headspace (Ph: 1800 650 890) for general support. For immediate and life-threatening emergencies please dial 000.