This week is World Mental Health week, and sometimes the hardest thing to face, regarding your own mental health, is when you need to take that brave step and ask for help.
For the most part, people are reluctant to reach out for help. This is because it can be scary to put ourselves out there in a vulnerable way and admit we’re hurting or struggling.
You might think that asking for support makes you a burden or puts too much pressure on others. Or maybe you’ve internalised loud and unhelpful messages from society and formative relationships that have framed help-seeking as an act of weakness. Maybe you think your problems pale in comparison to others and feel guilty that you’re struggling.
It’s time to push past these obstacles and recognise that seeking help is actually an incredibly courageous act – it means that you know enough about yourself to know that you’re not doing great. It shows that you understand that things might be tough right now but they don’t have to be like this forever.
Signs you might not be doing great
- Not feeling like yourself. More often than not, you’re agitated, erratic, overwhelmed, aggressive, downhearted or withdrawn.
- You’re drinking, smoking or using drugs much more frequently.
- You’re self-isolating – not attending social events and frequently cancelling plans.
- You’ve stopped doing fun or healthy stuff – like hobbies or exercise.
- Your relationships are constantly tumultuous, draining and difficult to navigate.
- You’re burnt out, disinterested in things, demotivated and feeling aimless.
- You’ve suffered a big life blow, e.g. lost a friend/family member, broken up with a partner, lost a job, lost a bunch of money.
- You’re eating and/or sleeping waaaay too often, or barely enough.
- You’re posting dark, erratic or alarming content onto social media.
- Certain behaviours have taken on an obsessive, all-encompassing vibe, like watching porn, having sex, exercising, working, etc.
- You’re engaging in risky behaviours, like drink driving or speeding, driving drunk/high, gambling, taking heavier drugs, having heaps of unprotected sex, getting into fights.
- Your close friends or family have expressed concern for your wellbeing.
- You’ve thought about or planned out suicide or self harm.
If you find yourself relating to any of the above points, it might be time to reach out.
How to reach out for help
Talk to someone. The first step is to get it out in the open and share honestly and vulnerably. This can feel challenging and uncomfortable at first, but don’t let those feelings dissuade you from doing it. Speak to someone who is a good listener, who might have gone through similar challenges, or who has always had your back.
“But what if I have no one I can talk to?”
It can be really tough when it feels this way. Often, you’d be surprised at how decent most people can be when it comes to hearing out a friend in need. But if you feel like there is no one in your life that you can reach out to, then fortunately there is a number of free Aussie support services that offer immediate support where you can call and chat to someone right away.
Book a chat with your GP. Your GP is your next port of call, when it comes to getting the help you need. Although they might not always be the best folks to talk to about mental health stuff, they can give you a quick assessment and provide you with a Mental Health Care Plan – a valuable resource that gives you access to the Medicare rebate, where you score a minimum of around $80 off up to twenty one-on-one sessions per year with a registered psychologist (this has been boosted up from ten sessions, so a real win for mental health support!) If you find a bulk-billed psych, there will be no out-of-pocket fees either.
“But what if still can’t afford to see a mental health professional, even with the Medicare rebate?”
Fortunately, there are a bunch of free mental health services available to support you, where you can receive counselling, therapeutic support and a space to be heard. Some of these services also provide opportunities to web chat or text too, in case phone calls aren’t your jam.
Here are a few we recommend:
The Blue Knot Foundation: 1300 657 380
9am – 5pm, Mon-Sun AEST
Supporting adults affected by complex trauma and childhood trauma and those who support them
The Butterfly Foundation: 1800 334 673
8am – midnight, every day
Support for eating disorders and body image issues over the phone, web chat or email
Griefline: 1300 845 745
midday – 3am, every day
Telephone and online counselling service for people experiencing loss or grief
Headspace: 1800 650 890
Support and information for young people 12-25 for mental health and what’s going on in their life
PANDA: 1300 726 306
9am – 7:30pm weekdays AEST
Support for women, men and families affected by anxiety and depression during pregnancy and in the first year of parenthood.
Qlife: 1800 184 527
3pm – midnight, every day
Phone and online anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
Relationship support services for individuals, families and communities
Support Act Wellbeing Helpline: 1800 959 500
24hrs a day, every day.
Support for anyone working in Australian music or the arts who needs to talk to someone about any aspect of their wellbeing.
Always know that help is available
Mental Health challenges can feel especially isolating – and in the thick of it, it can feel next to impossible to take the steps necessary to get the help you need.
Please know that we’ve got a bunch of awesome practitioners at Indigo, who you can book in with – and with a Mental Health Care Plan, you can save a chunk of money on session fees. We know life can be tough, but you are tougher. Sending you love, where ever you’re at on your journey.