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Mental Health Month: Where to turn when times are tough

Posted on 22nd October 2020 by Vanessa Cole

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Find out what help is available this Mental Health Month

We’re in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Month, an awareness campaign organised by the Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA).

The annual campaign aims to reduce stigma and stimulate discussion around mental health issues. It provides an opportunity to talk about your mental wellbeing and find out what help is available if you are struggling to cope.

Whether you have been struggling with all the changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic or have been coping with other longer-term mental health concerns, know that you will find a helping hand to get you through this challenging time.

AnchorYou’re in good company!

If you have been affected by mental health issues, know that you are in good company. In fact, it’s very common.

According to not-for-profit mental health organisation Black Dog Institute, one in five Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 will experience a mental illness in any given year. And around 45 per cent of Australians will be affected by a mental illness during the course of their life.

Also, recent studies reported in The Sydney Morning Herald have shown that the number of people displaying symptoms of anxiety and depression has risen since the outset of the pandemic. Approximately one in five Australians have shown symptoms of depression during the health crisis.

AnchorA helping hand

But help is at hand. A number of organisations are offering resources open to all to help them with their mental health.

Beyond Blue offers immediate support by phone, online chat or email, or through their community forums. It also offers the NewAccess coaching program, which includes six free sessions for anyone who needs some support, as well as contact three months, six months and one year after completion.

You can also access up to 10 free counselling sessions through Medicare with a mental health plan. Help is also available remotely through telehealth, online and by phone.

The Australian Red Cross has plenty of initiatives to support people with mental health issues in the community. These include the Mates* program to help people who feel isolated expand their networks, the Telecross program providing a check-in phone call each day from a volunteer, and the Carer Respite program to give carers of people with a mental illness to take a break.

If you’ve noticed a friend, colleague or family member struggling with their mental health, check out the R U OK? website. The organisation runs an awareness day and an all-year-round campaign encouraging people to reach out and ask “Are you OK?” The website has a guide to initiating discussion and encourages us all to note that “a conversation could change a life.”

You can use free or low-cost apps like Calm and Headspace, which have a wealth of meditations, sleep stories and other exercises to help with anxiety or even prevent problems occurring in the first place.

Speaking of exercises, physical exercise is proven to make a noticeable difference in improving mood, self-esteem and of course, overall health.

AnchorHow you can get involved

If you’d like to get involved in promoting mental health issues this October, you can donate to the Mental Health Foundation Australia or sponsor or register an event on their website.

You can also use the #LetsTalk and #MentalHealthMatters hashtags across your social media.

To keep up to date with mental health issues, read the MHFA’s newsletter here.

Another great option is getting involved with volunteering in your community. Giving back and volunteering your time and skills can help you make new connections, boosts feel-good endorphins and can provide a fresh perspective on your own situation. Check out opportunities on the Red Cross website or through Civic.

However, you choose to mark Mental Health Awareness Month, remember that help and support is only a call or click away.