Are you ok? Many people would say they’re “fine”, but are they really? It’s questions like these that mental health awareness and advocacy encourage.
But there’s a lot more to it than just a question.
September is a month with a lot of focus on mental health in Australia, with some important dates standing out:
Mental health has come in the spotlight in recent years, and for good reason.
44%, or 8.6 million Australians aged 16–85 are estimated to have experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life, with 1 in 5 having experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months.
A full 800,000 people in our country are estimated to have a severe mental illness.
Statistics like those from the AIHW highlight how important such a spotlight is.
At Duff Street Clinic, we support our community with a range of mental health services
Our team of caring professionals have a long history of seeing patients get through and successfully manage both physical health symptoms, and mental health concerns as well.
Some topics that fall under the umbrella of mental health:
- Depression: Understanding the signs, symptoms, and treatment options
- Anxiety Disorders: Examining various anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, and how they affect individuals
- Stress Management: Strategies for coping with stress, both short-term and chronic
- Psychological Resilience: Developing resilience to navigate life’s challenges and bounce back from tough times
- Mental Health Stigma: Addressing the stigma associated with mental health issues and promoting open conversations and acceptance
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health: Mental health issues in children and adolescents, including early intervention and support
- Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence: Building and maintaining healthy self-esteem and self-confidence to improve mental wellbeing
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What being aware of mental health means
Being aware of mental health is essential for overall well being for not only those around you, but yourself too.
It signifies a recognition that our mental and emotional states are as significant as our physical health. Almost all of us experience fluctuations in our mental health at least once or twice in our lives.
Mental health is not solely about mental illness; rather, it covers a spectrum from a happy life and to resilience in moments of struggle or crisis.
Being aware of mental health helps create an environment where individuals are more comfortable seeking help and support when needed, without fear of judgement or discrimination.
It’s about understanding that mental health challenges are common and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, background, or financial status.
Simple things you can do to support your mental health
Whether it’s a walk with friends, yoga, dancing, team sports or something else, exercise releases endorphins, which can boost your mood and reduce stress.
Exercise not only boosts mood but also helps reduce the risk of depression and anxiety disorders and proves to yourself that you accomplished something.
Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. A well-rested mind is better equipped to handle stress and maintain emotional balance.
Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of mood disorders and cognitive decline. Even continuous late nights, early mornings or nights with minimal sleep can have a negative effect on mental health.
Limit screen time
A tough one for many of us. Reduce excessive screen time, especially on social media, to prevent information overload and potential negative comparisons.
Excessive screen time, especially before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to insomnia and the issues detailed in adequate sleep above.
Furthermore, social media use has been linked to increased feelings of loneliness and lower self-esteem in some people.
Social connection (in person, not online)
Maintain and nurture relationships with friends and family as they make up our support networks. Social support is crucial for mental health.
An active social life, not meaning an active social media profile, can provide emotional support during challenging times and enhance feelings of happiness and security.
Loneliness and social isolation have been associated with increased risks of depression and anxiety.
Set Realistic Goals
Break down tasks into manageable goals and celebrate your achievements as doing so can boost self-esteem and motivation.
Achieving even small goals can boost confidence and make a big difference to your mood.
Identify sources of stress in your life and develop healthy coping mechanisms such as time management, problem-solving, and relaxation techniques.
Techniques like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness can help reduce stress.
Seek Help When Needed
An important one. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional if you’re struggling with any mental health issues. Therapy and counselling can provide valuable support and strategies for improvement.
Early intervention and treatment can prevent the escalation of mental health issues and quickly improve your overall quality of life.
In Australia, we’re lucky to have a range of mental health support services, so make use of them should you need.
Mental health support matters
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or feels they may be, help is readily available.
Duff Street Medical offers a range of services in support of mental health for our community.
Similarly to a standard doctor’s appointment or regular check-up, a mental health consultation takes place in privacy with a caring professional and more often that not, ends with a range of tailored, effective treatment options.
No matter your mental health, there’s likely room for improvement, even if it’s small. Take some time to add a few of the tips above to your routine.
Even small changes can have a noticeable impact.