Here’s What You Can Do To Get Involved This #MentalHealthWeek
#MentalHealthWeek rolls around every year, and for seven days, we are inundated with incredibly important information, campaigns and calls to action. Each and every piece of information is relevant, but it can be difficult to know where to start if you do want to lend your support, get involved or simply learn more.
We took a look at all of the ways you can get involved in Mental Health Week and picked out a few of the most practical actions you can take.
Wear a wristband today (because we all deserve help)
Look, we know it’s not summer, and this isn’t a festival. But Headspace is asking everyone to wear wristbands for Headspace Day – today, Tuesday, October 11. The ‘Access All Areas’ wristbands are promoting the concept that all young people should have easy access to mental health services, no matter where they live. It should be the standard, right?
Well, new research from Headspace and Orygen shows that 50% of young people are waiting up to six months before reaching out for help when they need it most. Six months! Of those, 50% were avoiding it because they were worried about paying for help, and 45% believed they couldn’t be helped. So, embrace the wristband. You can print one out from the Headspace website; and while you’re there why not get your workplace involved, or your family?
Make a promise
Mental Health Australia is encouraging people to make a promise – basically, a pledge to yourself about your own wellbeing. It could be something big: a promise to get some help, to speak to a loved one that you’re concerned about, to talk to someone about what you have been going through.
Or, it might be something simple: to go to bed earlier, drink more tea, go outside every so often, put your phone down, eat a dinner that doesn’t include chips. It’s a great concept, and a way to figure out what exactly it is that you need. It’s important to remember that the promise isn’t binding, and there’s no pressure: even if you don’t carry it out, putting it down in words is an incredible start.
Do your research
This one is specifically for those who are in a positive enough headspace to read about tough stuff – and always remember that there’s no shame in switching off if you’re feeling overwhelmed (and if tough stuff is too difficult for your right now, we suggest moving on to the next section!). Arming yourself with information is a great way to understand what is happening around the country, and why it’s so important that we support mental health funding and awareness.
For example: this year’s Mental Health Week is seeing many organisations calling for more action over Australia’s suicide statistics, which peaked at over 3000 deaths last year alone. Another example? New research from Beyond Blue shows that almost 50% of Australians will experience bullying in the workplace at some point, which can then lead to mental health issues. The information and stats are out there, and they’re begging to be read.
Donate and head to events
Got some extra cash? Good for you! Instead of using it on beers this weekend, why not put it towards something a little different? From Headspace to Beyond Blue to the Black Dog Institute to Lifeline, most organisations that exist to support and educate people around mental health are calling out for donations this week (and every other week!). Government funding when it comes to mental health is stagnant, so these organisations can all use your help.
Don’t have any spare dough but want to get out there and support the cause? There are events happening in every single state for Mental Health Week. Most are in capital cities but many regional spots are holding events, too: from information sessions, to games, walks, festivals and parties. You can even go for a surf. Do a quick Google search to find the events happening near you, and get on out there – but here’s a start for SA, WA, VIC, NSW and QLD.
Be kind to yourself
Above all, try to be extra kind to yourself this week. We want you to be kind to yourself all the time, but Mental Health Week is a great time to slow down and take stock of where you’re at, how you’re tracking, and what you might need. Whether you’re dealing with mental health issues or not, everyone needs a little extra care sometimes – so listen in to your body and mind, and treat them gently.
Lead image: HBO Girls.
Chloe Papas is a journalist and writer based in Victoria. You can find her on Twitter here.