This week marks the annual Mental Health week and is at the centre of October’s mental health awareness month. It is an opportunity to refocus on the important people in our lives, ensure we regularly check in with them and ourselves, build upon the community and the support structures within it. Raising awareness and understanding around different mental illnesses removes fears of stigmatisation and opens up healing, sometimes life-saving conversations.
This year is about shifting focus and being present, encouraging you and others to tune into your own senses, and becoming comfortable with a range of feelings and emotions. Tuning in also happens outside of yourself, becoming aware of how you can contribute to others and the society you live in as a whole. Changing perspectives is a powerful tool for breaking down walls and beginning communication. Mental illness can often result in isolation and leave friends and family feeling confused or unequipped to help. Realising that feeling low is a natural and common part of life means it can be a problem shared and therefore understood.
There are many ways to get involved this year with mental health week; whether it is small scale or big picture, every single effort goes a long way. Research if any events are occurring in your area over this time or if there are organisations or other charities you can team up with. Helping promote events, volunteering time, or pooling resources means you can reach more people. Some examples include local art workshops, enabling a safe space for creativity and an opportunity for people to express themselves with a healthy outlet. There are various incredible indigenous workshops across the country with trauma workshops, cultural practices and education, as well as LGBTIQA+ events that encourage inclusion and acceptance.
If you find yourself feeling stuck and unsure, some at-home self-practices can help alleviate stress or symptoms of depression. Journaling can be very therapeutic; it is a great way to manage emotions and get any negative thoughts onto the page. Setting aside a little time each day means it can be easily integrated into your daily routine. Practising mindfulness and meditation is another gentle way to centre and switch off all exterior noise. Discovering a new hobby or exercise can help keep you motivated, meet new people and get out and about. Getting moving promotes the production of happy hormones, and a bit of fresh air is always good for the soul. Even basic self-care makes a big difference to energy levels and mood; ensuring you eat a nutritious diet, get enough sleep and maintain your hygiene are all small ways to keep you on track. Being open and honest with those close to you is essential when going through a hard time; tap into your friends as a familiar resource, and never be afraid to ask for support or help.