Mental Health Week: 7-13th October

Written by Lillian Nejad - Clinical Psychologist

20% of the Australian Population Need Your Support!

One in five Australians will have a mental illness in their lifetime, but all Australians will be impacted by mental health issues in some way both on a personal and a societal level. Mental Health Week is a national event in Australia that raises community awareness about mental health and wellbeing and aims to decrease the stigma related to mental illness.

From October 7 to 13, Mental Health Week will offer a range of opportunities for people across Australia to participate and engage in activities and initiatives that aim to inform and support the community about mental health and wellbeing.

Mental Health week also encompasses a global event with the same mission—World Mental Health Day on October 10. Over 150 countries participate in this initiative of the World Federation of Mental Health to raise awareness about the impact of mental health issues across the world. This year the 2018 WMHDAY campaign is focusing on Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. 

Adolescence and young adulthood is a time when people are highly vulnerable to mental health issues, and they often go unnoticed and untreated, masked by the developmental changes and risk-taking behaviours that are often expected as rites of passage.

In the age of social connection, young people are feeling more disconnected than ever. Research has shown that loneliness has significantly increased in teens and young adults, with those between 16 and 24 most affected and suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds'.

The statistics are alarming but the message is hopeful. With increased awareness, we will be able help young people build resilience and notice early warning signs of mental illness; and with decreased stigma, people will seek treatment earlier and therefore, recover more quickly.

Mental Health Week reminds us that a focus on the 20% is a benefit to us all.

Here are some tips on how to support young people in the workplace:

  • Stay connected to the people you work with. Provide a variety or options and opportunities for staff to engage with each other and make meaningful connections. If you don’t know your colleagues, you won’t know when they may need additional practical or emotional support.

  • Be approachable. Have a kind, open and nonjudgmental manner at work so that if someone does have a problem, they feel safe coming to you for support.

  • Be mindful. Notice changes in the mood, demeanour, and performance of your coworkers and employees. For instance, if someone seems distracted, sad or unable to complete their usual tasks, these are clear signs he or she needs additional support.

  • Intervene early. Don’t wait until small problems become bigger problems. Address issues directly:            

    • Ask if they are okay and

    • Tell them what you have noticed lately

    • Let them know you are concerned and are here to help in any way they need.

  • Collaborate on the best way forward. Make a plan to assist the person to address their current difficulties and be adequately supported in the workplace. Don’t feel pressure to know all the answers. Instead ask them what they think would help and go from there. Point them to helpful resources like Lifeline, Beyond Blue, local psychologists and other mental health professionals.

  • Keep talking. Make times to check in regularly. Review and make changes to the plan as the person’s needs change.

  • Participate in Mental Health Week. Run your own event or attend one of the many events held for Mental Health Week as a team to improve awareness and reduce stigma about opening up.

Here are links to MENTAL HEALTH WEEK events in your state or territory:

Victoria:

http://mentalhealthvic.org.au/

Melbourne:

https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/community/libraries/whats-on/Pages/mental-health-week.aspx

NSW:

https://nswmentalhealthcommission.com.au/events/world-mental-health-day-2018

Western Australia:

https://mhw.waamh.org.au

Queensland:

https://www.qldmentalhealthweek.org.au

SA:

http://www.mhcsa.org.au/mhcsa-events/mental-health-week-2018/

Tasmania:

https://www.mhct.org/mentalhealthweek/

NT:

https://ntmhc.org.au/mental-health-week/

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY:

https://1010.org.au

http://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/2018/en/