Positive mental health doesn’t mean being ‘happy all the time’, but instead means having a balance of emotions. What is really great about feeling balanced is that when something challenging emerges in life, we feel as if we have the tools to cope with the challenge and are able to face the challenge head on.
Employing a few small techniques in everyday life can be really helpful in keeping our minds mentally healthy. We like to look at promotion of positive mental health, and prevention of mental illness from two perspectives:
- Preventative Measures; and
- Reactive Measures.
At Dr YES, we consider preventative measures as those factors which promote positive mental health, and decrease the likelihood of mental health issues arising. Such factors include examples such as:
- Social Support Networks;
- Exercise; and
- Other measures dependent on the individual.
As regards reactive measures, such measures are those which are integral during a mental health crisis to ensure the well-being of the individual and a recovery from the crisis. At Dr YES we consider reactive measures to be measures such as:
- Social Support Networks; and
- Seeking professional help.
It is important to note that there is an overlap between preventative and reactive measures, which should be tailored to the individual.
An important part of these reactive measures is the firsts item on this list. However, in order for social support networks to be maximally effective, they require that such a network is well informed as to how they should act when a friend is going through a difficult period of mental health. Our HANDS model, (tabled below) helps educate students as to how they should act as part of a social support network in such situations.
Upon realising that a friend’s behaviour has changed in a noteworthy way, it is important to start a conversation around mental health with them. The H in hands stands for “How are you going?” and encourages students to enquire into the well-being of their friends. Volunteers ensure that students understand the best way to approach the complex issue of mental health.
After a friend responds to questions around their mental health, it is important to hear them out, and that is exactly what the A in HANDS represents. Often the most important role of a social support network, is simply to make an individual feel heard and valued. Specific listening advice such as avoiding turning the topic away from the individual and their concerns, suggesting too many solutions, and listening in a judgmental manner are further explained during sessions.
Nurturing encourages students to do whatever they can to support their friends who are going through tough times from a mental health perspective.
While the importance of social support networks helping out their friends cannot be understated, often the efforts of untrained, nonprofessional individuals is insufficient to ensure the best possible recovery experience for the individual. As such, it is important to encourage the individual experiencing mental health difficulty to seek professional health in order to give them access to higher quality care than can be offered by nonprofessional services.
In the midst of trying to care for a friend going through a period of difficult mental health, it can be easy to find oneself wrapped up in the difficulties of it all. In light of this, it is important to take care of oneself, and if the act of caring for ones friend is having a negative impact on ones own mental health, then it is important to take a step back and ensure your own well-being.
What is stress?
Everyone experiences stress. It is a normal reaction to various circumstances, where our brain strains a bit in response to difficult situations. What we know about stress, is that a low to moderate amount can be good, making us more alert and helping us stay motivated. However, when we over-stress, it can have a negative impact on us.
Coping with stress
Many things might stress us out such as school, friends, family, relationships, work, etc. It is important that we have some tools to cope with these things in life that stress us out. But it is also important to understand that there is no one right way of coping – everyone has different ways of coping with stress and we will all use different strategies to help us deal with certain issues. Some helpful coping strategies include planning how you might solve an issue, talking about the problem with someone you trust, or to just take your mind off it for a while (such as music, sport, TV, or relaxation). Some less helpful methods of coping with stress include risk tasking (alcohol, drugs), denying the problem, and blaming it on yourself or others. We encourage you to avoid these less helpful strategies as they can be harmful.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety is also a normal reaction to certain situations in life and can occur at the same time as stress. However, anxiety becomes abnormal when it interferes with our ability to function in day-to-day life. Sometimes too much anxiety can become an anxiety disorder.
What are the common types of anxiety disorder?
- Generalised anxiety
- Social anxiety
- Separation anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Specific phobias
If you would like to have a deeper discussion about anxiety disorders, we recommend booking an appointment with your GP.
Simply, mental illnesses can be thought of an abnormal imbalance of our emotions. This can present in many different ways and can be caused by biological, social or conditional factors. It is important that we understand that mental illnesses cannot “just be gotten over”, but instead require treatment by a health professional.
If you are worried about yourself or someone close to you refer to the resources below or book an appointment with your GP. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but can take incredible courage.
24hr hotline counselling
- Lifeline WA: (08) 13 11 14
- Online chat and call service available 24hrs a day for those thinking about suicide or experiencing a personal crisis.
- Crisis Care: 1800 199 008
- Counselling service for people in a crisis needing urgent help
- You might be afraid or alone and need to talk something through with someone
- Or you are trying to escape domestic violence and need help with deciding what you are doing
- Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800
- Confidential, telephone and online services that is aimed at supporting young people deal with issues ranging from suicide to sexual abuse.
Headspace is Australia’s national youth mental health foundation and contains info about what mental health is, how to stay mentally healthy and ways you can get help. They also have heaps of info on drugs and alcohol.
Depression is really common, and this site is getting out the message that it’s ok to talk about. There’s heaps of info on how to help your friends when you’re worried about them and where you can get help if you need it.
This free, anonymous and confidential 24-hour phone service is available to young people aged 5-25. Their counsellors deal with all sorts of issues, from relationship breakdowns to bullying, sexual abuse and drug usage.