One in five Australians are likely to experience some kind of mental health issue during their lifetime. Mental health issues can affect anyone - old or young, rich or poor.
When you're young, the stresses of growing up, family conflicts, study, work and situations such as living in care or being homeless can all take their toll on your mental health.
It can also be really tough living with or standing by a friend or relative who has a serious mental health problem. It can be hard to know what to expect, or what you should do.
It's important to remember that if you feel like you're not coping, it doesn't mean you're at fault, and that there is lots of help available to you during these times.
Worry, stress & depression
Sometimes worry, stress or depression can get in the way of you doing the things you need and want to do. Youth Beyond Blue can give you lots of information and help if you think you have depression or know someone who does.
Help for mental health issues can include support, counselling, medication or therapy. Some services and information are especially aimed at young people.
The Victorian Government Health Information - Accessing Mental Health Services page is a good way to look for services near your suburb or town. It includes listings for general mental health services as well as services specifically for children and teenagers.
Other organisations that can provide help include:
- eHeadspace - a confidential, free and secure space where young people 12 - 25 or their families can chat, email or speak on the phone with a qualified youth mental health professional
- Kids Helpline - a 24-hour telephone and online counselling service that includes a directory that you can search to find services and places that can help you in your local area - call them on 1800 55 1800
- Reach Out! - offering fact sheets on mental health and stress that provide advice for you or your friends, information about how a therapist may be able to help, and an overview of treatments available
- Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) - providing information for family members of parents with mental illness
Looking after your mental health
There are many ways to look after your mental health even when you don't think it needs special attention. It helps if you can:
- eat well and exercise regularly
- get enough sleep and set aside some time each day to relax
- put time into activities and relationships that make you feel good
- set yourself some short-term and long-term goals to look forward to
- try to deal with problems instead of letting them build up
- be aware of the possible effects of alcohol and drugs on your state of mind and relationships.
These things can really help you keep on top of day-to-day-life and stay on top of regular stress levels and worries.
Ways you can improve the situation
A mental health problem can happen to anyone at any time. It's nobody's fault.
It may seem hard to understand or deal with, but it really helps to speak out and get support instead of trying to deal with it alone. Below are a few steps that are helpful in these situations:
- acknowledge that there may be a problem
- don't panic
- talk about it with a friend or someone else you trust
- seek out professional advice and information
- accept help.
When we are sick or injured we head straight to the doctor. We should do the same with our mental health and treat it with the same level of care and concern that we do when we have a physical illness or injury. Check out the "Getting Help" section above to find out who you can talk to if you need to.
Mental health websites and apps
There are some online tools and apps that you can use to find out more about your mental health and ways that you can improve it. All of these apps are available for iPhone/iPad, and some are also available for Android (note that most of these apps aren't free).
Remember, though, that an app or a website is no substitute for a talking to a doctor or a counsellor - see the "Getting Help" section above for more on who you can talk to.
- MoodGYM is a free site that explores issues like how emotions arise and how to manage stress and self-esteem.
- Moodkit features a range of mood-enhancing activities, helps to identify and change unhealthy thinking, lets you rate and chart mood across time, and helps create journal entries using templates designed to promote wellbeing.
- Deep Sleep (iOS / Android) provides guided meditations intended to help you overcome insomnia.
- Mindfulness Meditation includes daily activities that can help establish and maintain regular meditation practice, and a range of guided meditations from 5 to 40 minutes.
- Superbetter is an online game that helps you achieve health-related goals by increasing resilience.
- iCounselor has a range of apps that help you understand and deal with things like OCD, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and anger.
- Better Health Channel has info about mental health services and programs that can provide treatment, information, tools and advice on how to deal with a range of mental health issues.