Mental Health Care and Awareness

Ashley Flentjar and Rheanna Hill

Let’s break the stigma around mental health – During a community Facebook LIVE Event we welcomed a guest speaker to discuss mental health, the importance of taking note of your own mental health and of those around you. 

Disclaimer ** Before we start, we would just like to say that neither Ashley nor Rheanna are qualified in the mental health space and this comes from personal experience  – however Rheanna is on two boards throughout Sunraysia; one being the Northern Mallee Mental Health Alliance Suicide Prevention Working Group and secondly the Sunraysia Mallee Suicide Prevention Network. Rhe is speaking from experience of losing a family member to suicide and hopes to use her experience in helping other families to prevent similar outcomes within the Sunraysia community.  

We spoke about a few steps and pieces of advice regarding; how to notice the signs and symptoms, how and where to get help for yourself and/or your loved ones, when you may not be sure where to turn to next. This is a topic very close to us and we hope to help create some more awareness and open up some conversations. 

Some signs and symptoms we recommend keeping an eye out for in yourself and loved ones:

1.   Change in behavior

2.   Lack in motivation

3.   Sleeping issues

4.   Drugs and alcohol

5.   Dramatic change in life events

As a family member our first piece of advice would be:

1.   IF IT IS URGENT and you a worried about for the safety and wellbeing of the individual – Hospital or ambulance for immediate assistance

2.   If it is non-urgent and not an emergency, we suggest visiting a GP and getting a mental health plan from them and they will then refer you to another service from there. The Medicare rebate on this is 10 sessions. Currently due to COVID-19 and lock down the government have extended another 10 sessions for people affected in lock down areas.

3.   If they are aged between 12-25 – Headspace are a great resource to reach out to (Linked below)

4.   Online resources where you can access a councilor anonymously – for example Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Black Dog Institute – (Please see below for direct links and resources)

Some ways to approach someone if they are showing the above signs and symptoms:

1.   Bringing them into a space and environment that is non-judgmental and supportive

2.   Giving them space to talk and being there to listen – people do not necessarily want you to fix their problems

3.   #YouCanTalk campaign – can help you with other resources for dealing with loved ones- (linked below)

4.   Keep an eye on them from a distance and keep in contact with them – sending them daily memes or messages just so that they know that you are there for them

We would like to mention that if you are currently helping someone else or if you ever need to help someone else through any other the above we strongly recommend making sure that you have your own self-care plan in place so that if you ever start to feel overwhelmed from helping someone else you have a system or support network in place.

Our Self-care tips:

1.   Meditation

2.   Listening to music 

3.   5 minutes to yourself to breathe

4.   Quality sleep – at least 7-9hrs of sleep a night

If you would like more in-depth self-care tips, we strongly recommend visiting our previous blog post “Self-Care” – Click the link here

Lastly but not definitely not least we want to encourage everyone and any one that may be feeling any of these emotions or showing any of the signs and symptoms listed above to seek help or advice from someone within the medical and/or mental health space. Please see below for linked resources and tools that will be able to assist you. 

We’re all in this together and together we can help break the stigma and raise awareness around the importance of mental health care and lastly, but most importantly together we can help make a difference in our community.

Lifeline Australia – 13 11 14 – Crisis Support. Suicide Prevention.

Beyond Blue: Anxiety, depression and suicide prevention support

Black Dog Institute – Mental Health Research for the Whole Community

#YouCanTalkHeadspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation