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  • Writer's pictureKate Bradshaw

Look After Your Mental Health

Mental Health Month is celebrated each year in the month of October in NSW.

This awareness month encourages all of us to think about our mental health and well being, regardless of whether we may have a lived experience of mental illness or not.

This month also gives us the opportunity to understand the importance of mental health in our everyday lives. The following blog provides an overview of what mental health is, provides some signs that may indicate that somebody is having some problems and provides a quick list of positive steps to help improve your mental health.

Mental health is a state of emotional and psychological well-being which has an impact on the way an individual uses his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also impacts how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behaviour could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors,

  • Family history of mental health problems and

  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse.

Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Fact: "One in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depression, anxiety and substance use disorder."

  • Feeling anxious or worried-Feeling anxious constantly and interfering all the time. Other symptoms may include hearth heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache restlessness, diarrhoea or a racing mind.

  • Feeling depressed or unhappy-Have you notices that the person has lost interest in a hobby, if seemed sad or irritable for the last few weeks or more, lacking in motivation and or are teary all the time?

  • Emotional outbursts-Every one has different moods, but sudden and dramatic changes in mood, such as extreme distress or anger.

  • Sleep problems-Generally, we need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Persisting changes to a person sleep patters could be a symptom.

  • Weight or appetite changes-Many of us want to lose a few kilo's, but for some people fluctuating weight or rapid weight loss could be one of the warning signs.

  • Quiet or withdrawn-We all need quiet time occasionally, but withdrawing from life, especially if this is a major change or refusing to join in social activities may be a sign that someone would need help.

  • Substance abuse-Are you worried that someone is drinking to much? using substances, such as alcohol or drugs, to cope can be a symptom of, and a contributor to, mental health issues.

  • Feeling guilty or worthless-Thoughts like 'I'm a failure', 'it's my fault' or 'I'm worthless' are all possible signs.

  • Changes in behaviour or feelings-A mental illness may start out as subtle changes to a person's feelings, thinking and behaviour. Ongoing and significant changes could be a symptom of developing a mental health issue.

Connecting with others Is important for all aspects of our health and well being. Research tells us that feeling connected with others gives us a sense of security, support, purpose and happiness. Close "near" connections and good relationships with others help us enjoy good times in our lives as well as cope with difficult experiences. The "far" relationships are more casual than your near relationships, but they can still have a big impact on your health and well being and are the broader relationships we have with our wider community. They will give a sense of connectedness, familiarity, and belonging. Many of us report feeling lonely and believe loneliness is increasing in Australia. For those experiencing or living with mental illness. Loneliness can have an even bigger impact, especially when you factor in the added experiences of social exclusion and stigma.

The following things have shown to positively impact mental health:

  • Connecting with others and socialising

  • Being active

  • Helping others

  • Learning new things

  • Other things that have demonstrated benefit for our mental health include:

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Spending time with people we care about

  • Taking care of our physical health; and

  • Developing a range of coping skills you can draw on when things get tough.

If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one, ask them how you can help. The first step for a person with symptoms of a mental illness is to see a doctor or other healthcare professional. Do you need some more help?

  • Mental Health Line 1800 011 511

  • Lifeline 13 11 14

  • For all emergencies call 000

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