Forgotten but not gone – simple advice for dealing with difficulty

By Nicolas Brown

I’ve always felt like there is something about swimming for me that refreshes my mind. Especially when it is in the ocean. I think nature can do that to you. That is, until you get stung by a bastard jellyfish! This happened to me recently and it bloody hurt. Afterwards I thought it’s just a jellyfish, I don’t need to see a doctor, but the pain kept getting worse over a few days and after being encouraged to get it checked out I eventually did, from there, things looked up. When we are faced with a physical problem, the best thing to do is deal with it, not pretend it doesn’t exist. Why is it different when we are dealing with emotions or mental health?

You may think your problem isn’t considered ‘big enough’ but if it’s having a negative impact on you then it is big enough. If it is making life hard for you personally to do your every day tasks, or to enjoy them, then it’s worth chatting about. It’s often so easy to assume our troubles aren’t as big as someone else’s, that there are so many bigger problems out there, but that’s not the best thing to focus on, when we are talking about mental health every trouble or difficulty is worth a chat with someone. Don’t diminish what you are going through by saying ‘I don’t want to be a burden’. You may find you are the opposite to a burden, you being vulnerable may just allow someone else to feel comfortable enough to open up and reach out for support just like you did.

In fact that is what the research tells us. Hearing someone else’s story helps reduce the stigma around mental health and encourages others to reach out also. The ripple effect of having people in our communities willing to openly say when asked how they are doing is pretty powerful. Instead of responding with the all too common ‘good’, there is power in saying ‘to be honest I am feeling pretty crappy and I don’t even really know why’.

Don’t bury your worries. Follow one of batyr’s 5 tips and ‘Get Talking’, chatting to a friend, colleague or family member can be crucial. If needed, you can access resources or support from professionals online, over the phone, or face to face. Check out Reachout.com to see the importance of having a chat, http://au.reachout.com/the-benefits-of-talking.

Reaching out for support doesn’t have to be complicated. The important thing is that first step to Reach Out and to understand what is out there so you can direct friends if needed or utilise those networks yourself. Don’t let the jellyfish sting get any worse, trust me it’s worth it!

batyr creates this environment of feeling comfortable to reach out for support in schools and uni’s through programs that involve the sharing of lived experiences by young people. 

What’s in your self-care toolkit?

By Benita Bruce

You might have heard the phrase ‘self-care’ come up in your life recently. Self-care is anything you do to take care of your physical or mental health, and at batyr we are really passionate about everyone practicing mental health self-care on a regular basis. Mental self-care is like diet, exercise, or any other aspect of personal wellbeing – without regular attention and the right resources, it can be easy to neglect. We’ve put together some suggestions to help you develop your own mental health self-care toolkit. Check them out and see what works for you!

1. Phone Apps
We know that our smart phones can have a negative impact on our mental health, but we can also use them to help improve our mental health. There are tons of free and paid apps out there which are designed to help you check in with your mental wellbeing, specifically focusing on meditation and mindfulness. Some of our favourites are Smiling MindHeadspaceCalm and 1 Giant Mind. Creating a regular meditation or mindfulness practice can help us LOOK OUT for different emotions we are experiencing, and identify emotions we need to act on.

2. Spend time with friends and family
Spending time with people who love and value you is vital for your mental health. Make sure you have time in your diary every week to hang out with friends and family who will make you feel great about yourself, who build you up and celebrate your achievements. Being around these people will help you GET TALKING if you’re ever having a few bad days or struggling to keep on top of your mental wellbeing. On the flipside, learn how to recognise when you need some ‘me’ time to recharge. It’s okay to say no to social stuff sometimes if that’s what you need. It’s about finding a healthy balance.

3. Journaling
Keeping a journal of your holidays in primary school was cool, then it became lame in high school, but now journaling is back! There are so many benefits to journaling that we don’t have space to go into here. Importantly, regular journaling (without censoring yourself) can help you process your thoughts and understand yourself better. It helps you LISTEN UP to your inner monologue and identify negative thoughts and behaviours to be addressed. Journaling also helps you reflect on the awesome things about yourself and what’s happening in your life to be proud of.

4. Know where to find help
One of the best things you can have in your self-care toolkit is the ability to get professional help quickly when you need it. Know where you can REACH OUT locally for support, whether it’s your school/university counsellors, your own psychologist or even professional helplines. Have their contact details programmed into your phone, written in your diary or put somewhere else you can easily access if you need to. After a batyr program, you can grab one of these cards on the way out. They fit into your wallet and you can use them anytime you need a reminder of where you can reach out for help

5. Find what self-care techniques work for YOU!
Self-care is all about how you TAKE CHARGE of your own mental wellbeing, and ultimately this is going to be really different for each person. Spend some time working out what makes you feel happy and energised, and remember that what works for your friends might not work for you. Exercising, colouring-in, sewing, brunch, sleeping, swimming, reading, dancing, stretching, singing, cooking… these could all be activities to add to your own self-care toolkit. You could even create your own “A-Z of Self-Care” with a different self-care activity for each letter of the alphabet, so you’ll have 26 self-care activities at your fingertips when you need it!

Good luck with building up your own mental wellbeing self-care toolkit!

 

batyr response to Orygen ‘Under the radar’ report

batyr welcomes Orygen’s major report on the mental health of Australian university students which highlights the need for a coordinated and structured approach to preventative mental health education. The report Under the Radar acknowledges the distinctive [email protected] peer to peer programs which are currently embedded in five university campuses – ANU (Canberra), UNE (Armidale), UniSA (Adelaide), UTS (Sydney) and the Faculty of Health Sciences USYD (Cumberland).

“It is possible this organisation (batyr) could be involved to provide the national remit and focus needed to support the development of the university student mental health peer workforce in Australia.”

It is a well-known fact that over 75% of all mental illness emerges before the age of 25 and 1 in 4 Australians aged 16-24 are living with a mental ill health issues. Universities play a significant role in developing our nation’s future leaders and so provide the perfect platform to develop the mental health literacy and resilience of young people as they face challenges like living away from home, academic pressures and the lack of key support networks.

‘I’ve had to deal with numerous mental health issues since an early age, and most of them I pulled through purely due to the unconditional support of my family and friends.  Once I moved to Australia, I felt isolated and vulnerable, and fell into depression again. It was at university, surrounded by amazing individuals such as PNs, Big Lift and later batyr, that I was able to improve and seek the help that I so greatly needed. There should be no need for anyone to go through hard times alone, and none should (as I did) set up thresholds to ask for help. I want to help foster the environment that I was fortunate to have all around me at university.’ Daniel, Business Student. UTS

This is why programs that foster a supportive environment, make it ok to talk about mental ill health & make the connection between young people and support services are so important.

Although this report highlights a lot of the challenges that students are facing batyr’s CEO Sam Refshauge remains hopeful. “It is great to see that there are actually Universities out there that are committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their students. batyr are currently partnered with 5 Universities and they deserve acknowledgement and praise for their leadership and dedication to addressing these issues.”