Did you know that 2 in 5 Australians have experienced mental illness in their life?
That’s a whopping 44% of the population, with ongoing social and economic disruptions causing this percentage to rise. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called this a “global crisis for mental health” as the Covid-19 pandemic alone has caused a 25% increase in depression and anxiety worldwide. As skills, funding, and services remain in short supply for mental health, the question remains, how can we bridge this gap?
World Mental Health Day brings this question to light each October 10, highlighting the importance of building awareness surrounding mental illness, as we work to eliminate stigma and support the people in our lives. This year’s theme, ‘make mental health and well-being for all a global priority’ aims to break down barriers to social inclusion and access to care, working to inform stakeholders and the community itself of better preventative measures.
What are the signs?
While mental illness has finally entered mainstream media and become more actively discussed, there is still a discrepancy in knowledge of what symptoms for different mental illnesses look like and, in turn, how to support them. Like any other illness, mental illness can be hard to diagnose, with many different symptoms falling under the blanket term of mental illness.
As signs of mental illness vary, it’s important to look at our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours to see if they are preventing us from living our lives in the way we would usually. While we all experience ups and downs in our mental health, the longevity and severity of these can indicate whether we are experiencing mental illness.
Some symptoms in everyday life could be:
- You are struggling to pay attention to what is going on around you.
- You constantly feel tired, you struggle to wake up and do the tasks you need to do.
- Things you have always enjoyed feel meaningless to you, you can’t be bothered to do the activities you once loved.
- You constantly feel irritated and frequently snap at the people around you.
- You can’t leave the house without checking the lock multiple times, you do this so much that you are running late to work.
- You can’t concentrate on what people are saying to you, you feel as though you are watching the situation rather than partaking in it.
- You can hear voices around you that no one else seems to hear.
From the outside this may look like someone in your life withdrawing or behaving differently from how they would normally. While this is not always proof of mental illness, it is important to recognize and acknowledge these signs as we continue to monitor the situation and act should the situation progress.
Taking action is essential to maintaining your mental health, however, when it comes to prioritizing wellness it can be difficult to know where to begin. With this in mind, we have put together a few ways to take action this Mental Health Week, helping you check in on the people around you and look after yourself. Action looks different for everyone, so we encourage you to partake in actions that that feel right to you.
Look in the mirror
As you navigate your everyday life, from work to friends to family, it can be hard to remember to take the time to look after yourself. It’s more important than ever before to acknowledge our own feelings and thoughts in the face of different situations, ensuring we are equipped to handle the challenges that life sometimes throws at us. Take some time to check in with yourself and assess your wellbeing, if you are finding everyday tasks difficult or noticing a change in your behaviour it may be time to have a chat with someone in your life.
Check in with a friend
When you are experiencing poor mental health, it can be hard to reach out to the people around you. Mental illness can bring on an onslaught of different emotions from helplessness to shame to even guilt, meaning that asking for help, within itself, can sometimes feel like a constant battle. Instead of campaigning for individuals who struggle with mental illness to reach out, we want to reframe the direction. If you notice someone in your life is quieter than normal, you should check in with them. You can look out for the people around you with something as simple as an ‘are you okay?’.
Something about getting out in the fresh air helps us practice mindfulness, allowing us to escape the daily busyness and relieve stress. Whether you take a walk in the morning or sit outside while you try your hand at journaling, studies show that the sun can improve your attitude and mood.
Take some time for yourself
The messaging behind self-care can often feel like a convoluted extra-curricular activity, rather than an essential health care that we should all partake in. Looking after our mental health should be like any other health care service, like getting your doctor’s prescription, self-care should be something we do frequently as a part of our life. Take some time to do the things you love, creating a series self-care anchors, non-negotiable activities you partake in each week. This could include going for a walk, catching up with a friend, or getting up from the work desk to grab a coffee and have a break.
Get professional support
Seeking help can often feel overwhelming, whether it means finding a counsellor for the first time or taking the time to explain your thoughts and feelings. Everyone’s experience is different, and that’s why it is important to take an approach that makes you as comfortable as possible. This may look like asking a friend for recommendations, signing up for an over the phone counselling session or visiting your local GP for a referral. Ask someone in your life to help you research different mental health supports in your area, some supports include Headspace, Beyond Blue and Salvation Army.
To celebrate Mental Health Week, our Hornsby, Parramatta, and Tuggerah team came together to enjoy an amazing lunch and have a chat about mental health. The group took the time to tune in, spending their afternoon playing boardgames, partaking in self-care and spending quality time with the people around them.
Starting positive conversations around mental health helps us to build mindfulness in the face of busy workloads and prioritise better self-care.
At breakthru we work to ensure that our mental health services are as accessible as possible, so whether you want to have a chat with someone or would like to reach a personal recovery goal, we can help. If you are looking for help managing stress, anxiety, or depression contact us today.