When I started to think on how to start this blog I realised it would be best to do it from my personal perspective. I don’t suffer any mental health issue and in a way that is why I started on a journey of discovery, as I wanted to be more helpful to those around me who do.
My youngest daughter suffers terribly form Anxiety and Depression. I had her at therapists from 14 to help work through her issues but I really didn’t understand what she was feeling or how I could “fix” it as parents like to do. I have found “fixing” isn’t the answer but listening and understanding is.
Recently, I had a friend who was not handling a breakup at all well. Several evenings I kept them on the phone while madly finding who can help them as they were in the far north coast of NSW. Finally they went to seek help.
So what is Mental Health – it’s quiet a broad term with different meanings. The WHO defines mental health as “a state of well – being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make contributions to his or her community.”
A mental disorder or illness is a diagnosable illness that affects a person’s thinking, emotional state and behavior, and disrupts the person’s ability to work or carry out other daily tasks and engage in satisfying personal relationships. Some people may only have one episode, while others have multiple episodes and have periods of wellness in between.
There are many types of mental illness such as depression, anxiety, and other less common such as bipolar and schizophrenia.
Currently, suicide is a significant issue on the Northern Beaches, with our area recording 73 deaths in 2017 – 2018. Pre- Covid, Lifeline was taking around 80 enquiries a month but that has risen to over 200 in the month of August 2020.
With the rise of feeling isolated, changes to routine and job losses can lead to feeling socially disconnected.
Although no person should be overlooked, the most of concern is young people and middle-aged men. One Eighty Inc, a local youth based mental health and suicide prevention charity says it has had a rise of 140 young people register for it’s peer-to-peer online support service since March.
What can you do? Looking for signs and symptoms is the first thing.
Signs for depression can include:
- Loss of enjoyment
- Lack of energy
- Feeling worthless and/or feeling guilty
- Thinking about suicide or death a lot
- Difficulty concentrating
- Moving more slowly or sometimes being agitated and unable to settle
- Having sleep difficulties
- Loss of interest in food or eating too much. Changes to eating habits, so either weight loss or gain
- A depressed mood
Symptoms of Anxiety:
- Mind racing or going blank
- Decreased concentration
- Vivid dreams
- Feeling unrealistic or excessive feat
- Distressed in social situations
- Pounding heart, chest pain, rapid breathing or blushing
- Shallow breathing
- Dizziness, headache, Sweating, tingling and numbness
Anyone can sign up for a Mental Health First Aider course. This training program is run online with 5-6 hours of self-paced online education and 2 x 2.5 hours virtual workshop with a trainer. On successful completion you will receive a 3-year qualification in Mental Health First Aid. The next training is on the 19th & 21st and also on the 27th&28th of October
If you don’t feel comfortable in doing training, then being a friend and if you see someone you know not acting as they usually do ask him or her if they are ok. Asking in a non-confrontational way, at suitable time and space that makes both of you feel comfortable. This may even be online or by phone. Listen to what the person has to say. Try and give support and information (I will provide places of help below). Encourage the person to seek help. Encourage the person to seek support from those around – family and friends.
What if it is you not feeling ok? There are many of us that are just a reach away who you can talk too, the first step is the hardest but no one has to be alone. The community on the Northern Beaches is incredible and we do help each other out. You can PM me anytime and I know there are others on the Northern Beaches Mum page that is excellent in these areas.
Places to seek help for you or anyone you may know that needs help:
headspace Brookvale – 9937 6500
Lifeline Northern Beaches – 9949 5522
One Eighty Avalon – firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Care Northern Beaches – 9998 2999
Gotcha4Life – email@example.com
Northern Beaches Community Mental Health – 9388 5366
Northern Beaches Hospital Mental Health Service – 9105 5000