TAKE FIVE: Queensland Mental Health Week aims to raise awareness about mental health, the local support available and encourages the community to make time for the things that make them happy.
TAKE FIVE: Queensland Mental Health Week aims to raise awareness about mental health, the local support available and encourages the community to make time for the things that make them happy.

TAKE TIME: How to look after yourself at work and home

The human brain is both powerful and complex, but when overwhelmed, runs the risk of creating mental illnesses that can become debilitating, which is why it is crucial to put self-care strategies in place at both home and work.

Queensland Mental Health Week is an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing.

And while these campaigns have undoubtedly assisted in shifting stigmas by enhancing knowledge and understanding of mental illness, there is still a lot more work to do.

One in five Australians are affected by mental health annually and with the wave of new obstacles presented this year, including the devastating bushfires, COVID-19 and isolation, it's more important than ever to encourage others to seek help.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service executive director of mental health and specialised services Robyn Bradley said the week-long campaign was an opportunity to identify ways of breaking down stigmas surrounding mental illnesses and reaching out to others.

"We should all be taking the time to check in with ourselves and looking for simple and frequent ways to boost our mental wellbeing - regardless of whether we have a lived mental health experience or not," Ms Bradley said.

"To help drive this further, WBHHS will be joining the Shatter the Stigma campaign to encourage everyone from members of the public to our own staff to think about what we can each do to reduce stigma related to mental health."

 

Debbie Carroll with WBHHS executive director of mental health and specialised services Robyn Bradley (left) and board chair Peta Jamieson (right) at a 2019 public information session to share the planning process for a new hospital in Bundaberg with the community.
Debbie Carroll with WBHHS executive director of mental health and specialised services Robyn Bradley (left) and board chair Peta Jamieson (right) at a 2019 public information session to share the planning process for a new hospital in Bundaberg with the community.

 

As part of this year's theme "Take Time for Mental Health", members of the local community are encouraged to "take time" to be active, eat a healthy diet, learn new things, show kindness, connect with others, embrace nature and enjoy the moment.

Many educational and promotional events will be held around the Bundaberg region this week to raise awareness about the importance of taking the time to look after mental health.

"Locally we're also partnering with the dragon boating clubs at Hervey Bay and Bundaberg to offer free come and try days, as a means of helping people to connect, engaging in exercise and embracing nature by being outdoors on our beautiful waterways," Ms Bradley said.

"Across our various mental health sites, our teams will also be hosting rock and canvas painting, morning teas, daily activities, fun dress days and our Bundaberg Mental Health Unit will host a question-and-answer session with a panel of experts.

"There will even be a therapy dog visit to the Bundaberg Community Care Units and a colouring-in activity for people visiting the waiting area of the Maryborough Correctional Centre."

But the campaign goes much further than the week alone, which aims to encourage the community to seek support in all aspects of their lives, whether it be work or play.

 

IMPACT Community Services managing director Tanya O’Shea.
IMPACT Community Services managing director Tanya O’Shea.

 

IMPACT Community Services managing director Tanya O'Shea said many workplaces had developed their own frameworks to ensure employees were receiving the support they needed to assist with mental health.

"(At IMPACT) we aim to create a safe space by sharing our stories, encouraging self-care practice, and providing opportunities for debriefs and check in's just to remind each other that we care," Ms O'Shea said.

"Supporting and encouraging mental health within the workplace is now common practice, with a significant shift in society's attitudes paving the way for greater acceptance of mental health problems and increased support being provided to people who may be experiencing some issues."

Ms O'Shea said it was important for others to remember that taking the time to look out for your mental health wasn't a selfish act.

She recommended scaling objectives down into smaller sized goals to make it more realistic and achievable and to do something every day that brings joy.

"On a plane, the flight attendant will always remind us to put our own oxygen mask on first before assisting others - if you have not got it on already, the time has come to put on that oxygen mask," she said.

"Remember what works for someone else may not work for you (so) keep experimenting and do not give up until you find that one thing that matters to you and then be consistent and practice it daily.

"If you forget to do it, be kind to yourself and pick it up again the next day, (but) above all, be persistent, hold that one thing tight and remind yourself why you are doing this."

Queensland Mental Health Week runs until October 18.

For more information, visit qldmentalhealthweek.org.au

If you or someone you know is struggling, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.


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