October is Mental Health Awareness month, and this is a great opportunity to gain understanding and raise awareness on how to help yourself and others.
New data released from headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation reveals that nearly two thirds of young Australians (62 per cent) say that the mental health of young people is getting worse , with 37 per cent of respondents saying that social media is one of the leading contributors. Expectations from school, family or community (18 per cent) and work or study pressures (16 per cent) were also called out.
Headspaces across Australia are providing the following information and strategies to support those struggling with their mental health.
Get in to life: Keeping the fun in your life and doing things you love can give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose, boost your confidence and help to connect with others. If you feel like you might be spending too much time online, some of these things, such as drawing or playing the guitar might just be for fun, but other things like work or study can give you new skills and might help to give you meaning and create balance.
Learn skills for tough times: There are a lot of different strategies that can help you to manage difficult thoughts and feelings. Things like meditation, taking a digital detox, listening to music, spending time outdoors or writing things down are just a few ways that can help you handle challenging times.
Create connections: Feeling connected to others is an essential part of being human. Spending time with friends, family and people in your community, or joining a new club, even cutting back on social media use to allow more time to participate in activities like team sports, can help you feel connected and meet new people.
Eat well: There is a strong link between what we eat and how we feel - staying hydrated and having a healthy diet with a variety of fruit, veggies, nuts and wholegrains can actually improve mental health.
Stay active: Staying active can help you to sleep better, manage stress and boost your mood. Make time to take a break from study or work to do some exercise, whether it be going to the gym, kicking a ball around with a friend or just going for a walk. Whatever it is, start small, and make sure it's something you enjoy.
Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep improves your mood, sharpens your concentration and increases resilience. Reducing things like noise, light or activities such as video gaming can help you improve your sleep. You might also want to consider leaving your phone outside your room and using an alarm clock to help create a calming, technology-free zone, which can assist in aiding sleep.
Cut back on alcohol and other drugs: Curbing the amount of alcohol and other drugs you use (or avoiding alcohol and drugs altogether) will help you manage your emotions better, improve your wellbeing and ultimately help you avoid interfering with your mental health in the long run.
If you don't know how to help someone or you need help for yourself these are some of the organisations you can call or go online for further support.
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace on 1800 650 890
- ReachOut at au.reachout.com