Australia is in a mental health crisis. A staggering 40% of young Australian’s have experienced mental illness and Australia’s economic crisis has also created a devastating mental toll. Suicide Prevention Australia chief executive, Nieves Murray, said the cost of living and personal debt is now the biggest risk to rising suicide rates over the next 12 months.
“This is higher than previous years and is the first time an economic issue has overtaken social issues like drugs, loneliness and family breakdown.”
Today is R U Okay? Day: a non-profit suicide prevention organisation, founded in 2009. This National Day of Action is dedicated to inspiring and empowering everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them by asking the simple question “Are you OK?”.
At Open Colleges, our team have also been affected by mental health issues. We’ve asked them to share their stories and tips below. If you’re struggling today, we hope they help you feel less alone.
Dealing with Isolation
“Moving cities and changing jobs has been particularly tough in a world where remote working is my new norm. I moved from Melbourne to Sydney this February and I underestimated the impact it would have on me. It led me to lose self-confidence and feel isolated (I mean, it was hard enough making friends in your 30s pre-pandemic!). Funnily enough, opening up about feeling isolated has connected me with others and helped me to feel more confident. I think so many people are craving a meaningful conversation these days and we all deserve to feel heard and understood. I try to remind myself to be kind to myself, as well as those around me. Usually, going out for a lunch or coffee by myself gives me the time and space I need to reflect and ground myself.”
Beware of the Negative Self-Talk
"With the negative self-talk, just notice it. Take the constructive self-talk on board, but tell all the abuse to f the hell right off."
When Lockdown Lingers
“Like many, I didn’t make it out of the Melbourne lockdowns unscathed. Since everything has opened back up, I have struggled with motivation, taking action, and breaking cycles that were so engrained through those 2 years. I go through bouts of depression where I move from bed, to WFH, to the couch, and back to bed. I want to go out, take a walk, go to the gym, go to a concert, be social… but no matter what my brain thinks, I somehow just can’t always get my body to do it, the depression keeps me on the couch. It is Groundhog Day.
What this has taught me is that you don’t have to be in a dark place to be impacted by your mental health, you can still be happy and functioning. It has taught me that although there are people out there worse off than me, my mental health issues are still valid and deserve treatment and care.”
Hooray for Zoloft and Stories
“I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a pre-teen. In mid 2021, I went through a major depression that I didn't think I'd live through. I called Lifeline several times, and went to my GP who put me on Zoloft. What helped me the most was writing. I wrote a Psychological thriller during that horrible time, which distracted me from my problems, and gave me a safe place to go to every day. Writing has saved my life over and over again.
Now, I take Zoloft daily (and still write, of course!). But when I feel really anxious, I go to a quiet place (like my bedroom) and watch Marvel movies with my dogs. One of my favourites to watch is Avengers: Endgame. It reminds me that even when it feels like all is lost, there is still hope. There is always hope.”
Living a Balanced Life to Combat Anxiety
“I understand what it is like to have anxiety as it has plagued me for most of my adult life. Probably the most productive thing I can do to help it is live a balanced life, with work, exercise, family & friends, relaxing all being given enough time. Easier said than done!”
Life Can Change Instantly
“I have learnt that life can change in an instant and some changes can throw you a huge curveball. What is important to me and what gets me through these life changing moments, is family. My amazing friends and having somebody in your life that can make you laugh until tears are streaming down your face.”
Dancing Gets me Out of my Head
“When I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I dance. American social dancing is a lead and follow style, where nothing is choreographed – as a follow, you have to switch off your thinking to be completely present in the moment and sense where your partner is taking you on the dance floor. It gets you out of your head and into your body, and the resulting endorphins remind you that even in tough times, you can find your joy.”
Keep Going and Keep Trying
“I've battled with my mental health for at least 17 years. I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar in 2020. It was relief to hear - I could finally get the treatment and support I needed.
One thing I’ve learnt over the years, is that because I’m constantly changing (as are the situations I find myself in), it’s important to try new things. A tool I might’ve used or something I practiced to get me through tough times may not work the 5th, 6th, or 20th time! My advice would be to stay curious and listen out for new techniques - even if you may have screwed your nose up at them in the past”.
Taking Time out is Important
“When I feel anxious or overwhelmed, I stop whatever I am doing and take some time out for myself. My favourite thing to do is to take out my headphones, activate the noise-cancelling and put on my favourite podcast or audiobook. I then get up and start cleaning up the clutter in my immediate environment or even just do a general clean-up around the house. This achieves 3 things; it allows me to disconnect from the world, still feel productive and still be completely entertained, all at the same time. A good 30-minutes usually does the trick! and after I am done, I feel like I have accomplished something. Now I am fired up, my anxiety dissipated, my brain is reset and I’m ready to take on the bigger challenges.”
Thank you for reading.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, please seek assistance by contacting your trusted healthcare professional or calling Lifeline on 13 11 14.
For more help, here is a full list of people you can call today: https://www.ruok.org.au/findhelp