October News: Mental Health Month

October News: Mental Health Month

This month is Mental Health Month, with World Mental Health Day held on 10th October. Every year, Mental Health Month seeks to encourage us to think about our mental health and wellbeing, regardless of whether we have suffered from a mental illness or not. Mental Health Month acts as a reminder to understand the importance of looking after our mental health in our everyday lives and to remind us to seek help if we are struggling.

The mental health of Australians in 2020 has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. Therefore, this month we will look at common mental health issues in Australia, how to get involved in Mental Health Month, and how to help yourself and others’ mental health. 

  • Mental health is still stigmatised in Australia, where 1 in 5 Australians experience symptoms of mental illness every year; however, 54% of Australians with mental illnesses do not seek help or access treatment.
  • Almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

Mental Health Month

The theme for Mental Health Month this year is Tune In. Tuning in refers to being aware of your internal experiences, your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, as well as being fully present in the world around you.

This year, Mental Health Month encourages us to:

  • Tune in to your Senses – e.g. what do you feel right now?
  • Tune in to your Community – e.g. what’s happening in your community that you can be involved in?
  • Tune in to Stigma – e.g. how do attitudes and understandings of mental health impact our ability to live our lives freely and without shame?

Why tune in?

Tuning in has been shown to help build self-awareness, insight and to help us make effective choices, reduce the impact of stress and worry, and build positive, fulfilling connections with others.
 
When we tune into others, not only can we feel more connected but we can also provide safe spaces for people to talk about their experiences and reduce the impact of mental health stigma.

What can I do this Mental Health Month to make a difference?

1: Plan an event or project

Plan an event or project for Mental Health Month. Mental Health Month has plenty of resources and a starter kit with ideas on how to promote and build awareness around mental health this month including online events, wellbeing hours and creative spaces. 

Follow this link to get their starter pack:
http://mentalhealthmonth.wayahead.org.au/starterkit/

2: Spread the word
Tell as many people as you can that this month is mental health month. Promote the importance of educating ourselves and talking about mental health to save lives in Australia.
  
3: Talk to people about mental health
Talk to others about how you look after your mental health, about the importance of mental health and be careful about how you speak about mental health. If you notice stigma, stand up and challenge it.
4: Check-in with your loved ones
Social connection is essential in good mental health. Ask your loved ones how they are, and how their mental health is this month. Be willing to listen without judging or trying to fix.
 
5: Encourage help-seeking
One of the biggest challenges in tackling mental health is that people don’t seek help quickly enough. If someone says they are struggling, encourage them to seek help through their GP or EAP.

How to focus on your mental health this mental health month

1. Tune in to your mental health: Ask yourself, how is my mental health at the moment?

  • The Black Dog Institute has set up an Online Clinic that takes you through a range of clinical assessments for common mental health conditions so that you can receive a personalised report on how your mental health is right now. You can then download this and take to your GP or psychologist.
  • https://onlineclinic.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

2. Educate yourself about mental health: Mental health difficulties often go undiagnosed because people don’t know enough about mental health to spot the signs in ourselves or others.

3. Do something every day for your mental health: Just like we try to look after our physical health every day through our diet, exercise or going to the GP, we need to do acts of self-care every day to improve and protect our mental health.

  • Self-care activities like exercising every day,
    yoga, meditation, art or creative projects, socialising with friends and getting out into nature can look after you and your mental health.

4. Carry out a Weekly Mental Health Check-In: Every week, check in with your:

  • feelings (how stressed, anxious or down are your feeling on a scale of 0-10)
  • body (do you have any physical discomfort that might be a sign of mental health difficulties e.g. racing hear, tight shoulders, difficulty breathing)
  • sleep (are you struggling to fall or stay asleep? This can be a sign that your mind is struggling to switch off)
  • thoughts (are your thoughts racing? Are you worrying more than usual? Are you seeing things negatively or being self-critical?)
  • and reactions/behaviours (are you being irritable at work or home? Are you procrastinating? Eating unhealthy food? Drinking more alcohol than usual?).

5. Seek help from a mental health professional: 45% of Australians with mental health illnesses do not seek help from professionals and suffer in silence for years. Speak to your GP or call Acacia Connection on 1300 364 273. Mental health support does work and helps people who are struggling live fulfilled and happy lives.

Final Words

2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for many of us, and has impacted on people’s mental health. Now, more than ever, it is essential to promote Mental Health Month to encourage ourselves and others to prioritise and look after our mental health.

Where to Get Help 
Whether you are concerned about a colleague, family member, friend, manager or acquaintance, you can contact the following support services
  • Call or give the number for your EAP, Acacia Connection
    • 1300 364 273
    • www.eapcounselling.com.au
  • Speak to your manager, supervisor or HR if you are concerned about someone at work or need support at work
  • Connect the person to a GP
  • Encourage them to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • If you believe someone is in immediate danger, contact 000

If you or someone close to you needs support, contact Acacia EAP for an appointment.

P: 1300 364 273 | Text or Live Chat: 0401 337 711 | W: acaciaconnection.com

"The safety and wellbeing of our clients and staff is always our top priority. Acacia EAP is currently operating under normal conditions. Due to the pandemic status of COVID-19, some locations may move from face-to-face counselling to secure video or phone. All counselling services are able to be provided 24/7, as always. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and act quickly on the advice of health authorities."