October is Mental Health Month, and with it comes plenty of talk about “better managing your mental health”, which is easier said than done in the middle of a global pandemic.
As COVID-19 continues to create problems across the globe, many Australians have lost touch with their friends and family and are feeling more alone and isolated than ever before.
Studies have shown that during the coronavirus crisis, 30% of Australians showed moderate to high levels of anxiety and depression. The loss off direct human connection, jobs and financial stability have made this year particularly difficult, and the effects have been felt throughout the community.
This means events like Mental Health Month and World Mental Health Day are more important than ever before, as they give us the opportunity to promote mental wellness in a way that leaves a positive and lasting impact on the mental health of all Australians.
What is Mental Health Month all about?
The theme for Mental Health month this year is “Tune In”, which means being aware of what is happening within you, and in the world around you. Being “in tune” with your emotions and those around you can help build self-awareness, reduces anxiety and helps you make positive connections.
Tuning in is a conscious effort, and there are several ways you can promote better mental health this month. We’ve listed some ideas below, but we encourage you to go out and find something that works for you!
#1 Tune in to yourself
Being present and self-aware allows you to identify negative thoughts before they turn into overwhelming emotions like anger, anxiety or depression. Acknowledging your thoughts and asking yourself “Why do I feel this way?” allows you to proactively manage your mental health and identify triggers or concerns before they become unmanageable.
In a busy digital world though, stopping to tune in can be harder than you might think, so it’s important to make a conscious effort to set some time aside. There are a number of ways you can do this, such as:
- Going for a walk.
- Doing something creative.
- Being in nature.
- Finding silence.
- Take a mental health day off.
For those that like to be a little more organised, you can even set an alarm or calendar reminder to take a 10 minute break and complete one of the above activities each day.
You can also participate in Word Mental Health Day 2020’s activity, by making a promise on your mental health, and remind yourself to look after your wellbeing.
#2 Tune in to others
Tuning in to others, such as friends, family and colleagues can build positive connections and increase your sense of belonging and purpose. Does someone you love seem a bit down or stressed? Maybe you can sit and have a casual chat or help them out with a task. You can Tune In to others by:
- Asking others how they are feeling. By starting a conversation and commenting on any changes you may have noticed, it could help a loved one, friend or workmate open up.
- Sharing a cuppa
- Helping a loved one with chores
- Chatting on the phone or online
If you’re having difficulty connecting with others, it can be valuable to let them know that you’re having it tough. A conversation could change a life. This week is also Queensland Mental Health Week so, feel free to support these activities and take time for your own mental health.
#3 Tune in to stigma
Mental Health has long been associated with a stigma, leaving a negative mark on people who experience mental illness. Stigma can lead people with mental illness to be discriminated, with only 54% of people experiencing mental illness to not access any treatment. You can Tune In to stigma by:
- Talking openly about mental health (e.g. promoting Mental Health Day to raise awareness on mental illness).
- Being honest about treatment.
- Speaking up if someone is trivialising mental health.
- Getting informed on the facts about mental illness.
Stigma affects the wellbeing of those to experience it, but by showing your support you can reduce the discrimination, misunderstandings and prejudice that people experience in society.
If you’re in need of immediate mental health support, the Australian Government has a number of ongoing support programs you can access during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access their page about mental health supports here.
If you’re in an emergency situation or at risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000.
Alternatively, you can also contact the below crisis supports:
- Lifeline – 13 HELP (13 43 57)
- Suicide Call Back Service- 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue – 1800 512 348
Whether you need a day, week, or month for mental health, breakthru can also help you get back on track. Please get in touch with us today so we can help you live a healthier, happier life.
Through lived experiences of family and friends experiencing mental health conditions, Louise has witnessed the misconceptions and difficulties experienced by people with disability. By working at breakthru, Louise hopes to increase awareness and engagement of people with disability to promote inclusion in the community and workplace.