World Mental Health Day took place on October 10, marking the beginning of Mental Health Month in Victoria. The aim is to raise awareness of the mental health issues affecting people all over Australia and the world .
This year has had a prominent focus on mental health and wellbeing, and for good reason, with the 2020 pandemic bringing about many challenges for each and every one of us.
The last few months have presented many changes in life, and thus the potential for mental wellbeing to suffer. For healthcare workers; providing care in difficult circumstances, going to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them, for early childhood educators; working to give children the best start in life as they adapt to a range of changes in their lives, for students; adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and for people with mental health conditions; many experiencing even greater social isolation than before.
Mental health awareness and a focus on wellbeing are vital for a caring and compassionate society. We believe in a future where compassion thrives and people support one another to feel connected and valued at every stage of life.
Let’s take the opportunity this month to check on our own mental wellbeing as well as that of those around us. We can work together to create meaningful conversations, break stigma and improve access to tools, strategies and resources so that we are all empowered to overcome setbacks to see a brighter tomorrow.
The impact of mental health
Mental health issues can affect any person, regardless of their circumstances. No matter your age, gender, career, relationship or socioeconomic status, no one is immune to struggles. BeyondBlue highlights that there are various points in our lives that make us more vulnerable to mental health challenges, such as when we are experiencing big changes in life.
With one in four young people experiencing a mental health condition, and depression among the most disabling mental health conditions later in life, it’s important to note that mental wellbeing can be affected at any age. For example, Australia’s senior citizens have had their mental health impacted, particularly those living in aged care settings during the coronavirus outbreaks. This has brought about anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness for many.
According to Health Direct, symptoms of mental health issues can range from behavioural to emotional to physical, including:
- Sleep problems
- Weight or appetite changes
- Feeling anxious
- Feeling sad
- Feeling worthless
- Changes in behaviour
- Substance abuse
As well as being aware of how mental health troubles can present in ourselves and others, it’s essential to know what to do next. There are also many strategies to manage and enhance your mental wellbeing.
Mental wellbeing and self-care
If you feel that your mental health is not in a good place, it’s important to speak with a health professional. In addition, whether you are working from home, studying from home or simply in need of some support for your mental wellbeing, self-care is a good place to start. Self-care is so much more than just a relaxing bubble bath, and the benefits of self-care are far-reaching and include reduced stress levels, increased levels of resilience and improved overall health.
Reduce news and media consumption
News and media have been a rollercoaster this year, to say the least. It’s okay to switch it off and forget about the state of the world for a while. In fact, it’s recommended, particularly if the news is making you sad or anxious.
Make time for things you enjoy
Try to do one thing as a minimum each day just for pleasure. It might be reading a book with a hot chocolate in hand, playing the guitar or watching your favourite show. You deserve it.
Research indicates that exercise is a highly effective way of managing mental health and its symptoms. Exercise releases endorphins which help to make us feel happy, so fit in any exercise you can manage each day, even if it’s just a short walk to get started.
Meditation and mindfulness
Life can be overwhelming, but meditation and mindfulness techniques can help create some space and give you an escape. Mindfulness is highly effective in early childhood and aged care settings, but it can be just as useful for anyone who wants to find some inner peace.
Resources for managing mental health
There are many apps, online tools, phone lines, web and text chat services and more to support you when you need it most. You should also feel comfortable and confident about speaking to your doctor — they can help you with a mental health plan that will give you greater access to professional support to manage your wellbeing.
Keep these resources in mind for yourself, or to share with others:
- Lifeline Australia – Provide access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Website: www.lifeline.org.au Telephone: 13 11 14
- Beyond Blue – Provides information, and support for depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
Website: www.beyondblue.org.au Telephone: 1300 224 636
- Headspace – Provides young people with information and resources on mental health, physical health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services.
Website: www.headspace.org.au Telephone: 1800 650 890
- 1800 Respect – Provides 24 hour support to people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
Website: www.1800respect.org.au Telephone: 1800 737 732
- Mindspot – Provides free effective internet delivered psychological assessment and treatment for stress, anxiety, worry, depression, low mood, OCD and trauma (PTSD).
Website: www.mindspot.org.au Telephone: 1800 614 434
- Kids Helpline – Provides private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
Website: www.kidshelpline.com.au Telephone: 1800 55 1800
- National Debt Helpline – Helps people tackle their debt problems.
Website: www.ndh.org.au Telephone: 1800 007 007
- National Coronavirus Helpline – Provides information and advice about COVID-19.
Website: www.health.gov.au/contacts/national-coronavirus-helpline Telephone: 1800 020 080
Prioritise your mental wellbeing
Focusing on improving your mental wellbeing doesn’t just mean feeling better in yourself and enjoying life more, but it also enables you to better care for those around you. At Selmar, care and compassion are at the heart of everything we do. We continually strive to empower our learners and our team to create a more caring and compassionate society through the vital work that they do.
Download our self-care checklist below to make sure you are looking after yourself. Consider sharing this resource with others who may need a reminder to take care of their mental wellbeing. Reaching out to one another and offering resources and care is a simple yet effective way we can support the members of our communities.
Download our self-care checklist
Selmar is dedicated to supporting our learners and early childhood education clients. For more information, contact us today.