Each year in NSW, Mental Health Month is celebrated in the month of October. The objective of the month is to encourage everybody to reflect on his or her mental health and happiness. Connecting to others is vital towards having a healthy mindset, research suggests that feeling connected, valued and loved by others give us a sense of belonging, security and support. Good relationships with others allow us to enjoy life and tackle any potential problems together as a collective group, supporting and encouraging each other.
Sometimes life as an international student can be lonely, and for those living with a mental illness loneliness can often result in social exclusion, stigma and discrimination. As social beings, this can affect all aspects of our lives. To help encourage students to connect with others, the theme for Mental Health Month 2017 is ‘Share the Journey’. This theme focuses on the importance of social connections in:
- Our journey to better mental health
- Our ability to cope with life’s challenges. Good social connections not only improve our overall mental health and wellbeing, they also build our resilience.
Improving Resilience through Connection
Supportive relationships improve our ability to cope with life’s challenges and stressful events. In fact, social connection is a key factor that helps us to develop our resilience (APA, 2017). Resilience is very important for everyone because it is the ability to prepare for, deal with and move on from events that can affect all parts of our health – the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. You may ask, how does connecting with others improve resilience? Loving and trusting relationships can encourage and motivate us, help remove our doubts and fears, and give us hope in difficult situations. Positive connections with family, friends and the wider community also helps individuals to better deal with life’s challenges and have people to look up to as role models (APA, 2017). Accepting help and support from people we’re close to can also strengthen our resilience. Positive social relationships are important when we experience mental health difficulties. Connecting with others, being included in the community helps with recovery, and staying well longer.
Having patience is essential for our everyday lives particularly for building social connections and resilience. It is being able to accept and handle difficult situations without overwhelming yourself with anger, frustration or other negative emotions. Patience allow us to show kindness, concern, understanding and forgiveness to others. This can help us have better relationships with people and help us support individuals who are facing challenges – a perfect way to share the journey!
We can practice patience everywhere and anywhere we choose. It can be in situations like sitting in traffic, waiting in a queue, supporting a loved one or finding the right help for your mental health. So remember the importance of patience the next time you are annoyed with yourself, others or a frustrating situation – it can change your journey.
Defining Mental Health
Mental Health – a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (WHO, 2001).
Mental Distress – a term used describe the resulting experience a person may be having rather than a diagnostic term. Can occur at any point of the wellness to illness spectrum.
Mental ill-health – When our ability to think, feel and respond to others is interfered with. This often occurs in response to life events and stressors and may resolve over time or when stress is reduced. If ongoing or getting worse, a mental health problems can become a mental illness.
Mental Illness – is a clinically diagnosable illness that significantly interferes with an individual’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities. The diagnosis of mental illness is generally made according to the classification system of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Mental Illness are diverse and each of these can occur with a varying degree of severity. Some examples of mental illness include Anxiety Disorders, Depression, Bipolar Disorder and psychotic disorders.
Do you Need More Help?
Often, a good first step is having a chat to a local doctor who can refer you to someone who can help. You may be able to obtain a Medicare rebate for some sessions with a psychologist when your GP develops a management plan. For more information on how to find help, call the Mental Health Information Service on 1300 794 991 (9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday) or the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 (24hrs).
Another option is to go online for more information on mental health services via – wayaheaddirectory.org.au If you would like more information regarding mental health, support or about maintaining wellbeing visit our website wayahead.org.au to download and view our numerous factsheets and support programs. If you need to talk to someone now call Lifeline on 13 11 14 If you are from a culturally or linguistically diverse background, contact the Transcultural Mental Health Centre (TMHC) Information and Clinical Consultation Line on (02) 9912 3851.
Finally, remember that if you don’t find the right help the first time you try, it’s important to keep trying. It’s okay to ask again or to talk to another mental health professional until you find the support and help that is right for you.
Content taken from mentalhealthmonth.org.au