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Men and Mental Health

By | Men's Health, Mental Health | No Comments

Men and Mental Health

Physical health is important to maintain, but mental health can be just as crucial. There is a “silent crisis” around the world, where men struggle with mental health but feel they can’t talk about it or get help. No matter how good things look on the outside, if you have something on the inside that doesn’t feel right, it’s time to check up on your mental health.

Why it Matters

Mental health issues are more common than you think. According to Beyond Blue, on average around one in eight men will experience depression, and one in five men experience anxiety at some point in their lives. There are many other mental health issues that affect men and can have serious consequences for their ability to work, be around other people, and live life to the fullest.

Many men try to bottle up issues, but attempting to tackle mental health issues alone makes it far more likely that issues will go unrecognised and without any treatment. Depression is a big risk factor for suicide, and men are far more likely to commit suicide – around six out of every eight deaths by suicide are men. The number of yearly suicides in Australia is almost double the number of people who die on the roads in a year.

Everyone’s mental health goes through changes from time to time. Mental health check-ups and maintenance can help your overall quality of life, help build you up to support others, and allows you to perform at your peak.

What to look out for

Men and women share many of the same mental health issues, but they often differ in how their symptoms show up and how willing they are to talk about what’s going on. For example, depression might feel like sadness, frustration, anger or feelings of hopelessness – or all of them, together or at different times. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to help deal with their mental health issues. Symptoms can even show up as physical problems like headaches, a rapid heartbeat and/or tight chest, or even digestive issues.

Some signs to look out for include:

  • Not feeling yourself

  • Changes in mood, appetite or energy levels

  • Change in sleeping patterns – more or less than usual

  • Issues with concentration

  • Difficulties relaxing

  • Feeling flat, sad or hopeless

  • Increasing high-risk activities

  • Using substances more often

  • Unusual thinking or behaviour that interferes with everyday life, or worries other people

What to do about it

Bottling things up doesn’t help anyone – not you, and not the people around you. Recognising that there might be an issue and taking steps to fix it is the responsible thing to do. There are many things you can do to help get you back to yourself.

  • Keep physically well. Looking after your body can help work out issues with your mind. A good place to start is by staying active, eating well and getting lots of good quality sleep. Just getting outside can make a difference in how you feel. You might not want to, but keep pushing through and doing things you usually enjoy, and you could find that you’ll begin to enjoy them again.
  • Keep connected. You’re not alone if you feel lonely. Men struggle with loneliness more than women, and not just men who live by themselves. It’s easy to get into a pattern of working hard, with organising a catch up becoming too much trouble. However, including other people in your life is important to your mental health, and you might be doing them a favour as well. Try to catch up in person but even a quick message can help both of you feel more connected – and you never know who else might be going through a rough patch. Joining a local team or club can help get you around other people.
  • Keep communicating. It can be very hard to talk about what’s going on inside your head, especially if you’re not used to putting feelings into words. But if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts or worry that something is not quite right with your mental health, keeping quiet does much more harm than good. You might want to talk to someone who knows you, like a family member, or you could talk to someone completely anonymously, by making a call to a group like Beyond Blue. Think about who you could talk to – opening up to friends, family, or a health professional can help put you on the road to recovery.

There are many paths you can take to good mental health, and many people who can make your journey easier. Your GP is a good place to start, and can make recommendations or refer you on to people who can help you get back to feeling yourself.

Do you or someone you know need help or support?

If this article has raised any concerns for you, or if you or someone you know needs help please call

Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636

click the button to book an appointment with a HealthMint GP or Psychologist

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Workplace Bullying and Mental Health

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health | No Comments

Is Workplace Bullying Affecting Your Mental Health?

Bullying is often discussed in relation to youth, but it’s a problem that can occur at almost any age. When discussing bullying as adults, it’s important to remember that bullying is often made up of small, repetitive incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but over time have a serious and detrimental effect on individuals and the wider workplace.

A report by Beyond Blue found that almost 1 in 2 Australians will experience workplace bullying at some time in their lives. Far from being a small annoyance, bullying can have real effects on people’s mental health. Let’s look at workplace bullying, and how it can have long-reaching consequences for individuals and their companies.

What is Workplace Bullying?

“Heads Up” defines workplace bullying as “repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or group of employees, that creates a risk to health and safety”. Bullying embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied. It can happen in person, but can also happen out of sight or online.

The “risk to health and safety” applies when someone’s mental health is at stake, as well as their physical safety. Workplace bullying takes many forms, and it can have a significant effect on the health and wellbeing of the person being bullied, as well as on the culture of the workplace.

There are several types of bullying behaviour that are more common.

Cyberbullying:

 People can be bullied using technology. That might include having messages sent either to the person or about them via various forms, sharing media about a person such as videos or pictures, or posing as that person online.

Social bullying:

 Deliberately leaving someone else out in an attempt to make them feel bad, deliberately excluding someone from a conversation, using social gatherings to say unpleasant things about a person. Bear in mind, that doesn’t mean that everyone should be invited to every social gathering! Bullying occurs when the person is being repeatedly left out with the deliberate intent of making them feel excluded.

Physical bullying:

 Taking or destroying someone’s property or any unwanted touch can be a form of bullying. Physical bullying is starting to cross the line into explicitly illegal behaviour such as assault and theft.

Emotional bullying:

 Ridiculing, intimidating, or putting someone else down repeatedly is emotional bullying.

The Impact of Bullying

Bullying has a different effect on each person. People might feel alone, scared, powerless or miserable. Repetitive bullying can be overwhelming and feel like escape is impossible. Some people get angry, and spend time planning retribution. The effects of being bullied can build up over time, creating a high pressure situation.

Bullying can affect every part of someone’s life, from their relationships, confidence, how they present themselves, and what coping strategies they employ. People who are being bullied are often constantly on the alert to avoid unpleasant situations, which can be mentally exhausting and impact their working life.

Bullying in the workplace can have an effect on the business as well, especially because of lost productivity, absent employees, high turnover and low morale. The combined cost of bullying in Australian workplaces is estimated to be between $6 billion and $36 billion a year.

Putting a Stop to Workplace Bullying

In the past, management have often addressed bullying as an individual issue. However, beyondblue research has found that it is actually environmental factors that drive bullying, such as poor organisational culture and a lack of strong leadership.

Creating an environment that doesn’t allow bullying behaviour to occur is the best way to stop it from escalating. Businesses need to create strong, consistent approaches that do not tolerate bullying behaviour. A positive, respectful work culture goes a long way towards stopping bullying in the workplace.

If bullying does occur, the most important thing that individuals and businesses can do is treat it seriously. Bullying is often made up out of small incidents that seem insignificant on their own, but can build up to make a person miserable. Anyone who is being bullied needs to feel heard and supported. If you are being bullied, make sure you find a trustworthy person to talk to. Workplace bullying is a serious issue, and the impact on mental health should not be taken lightly by anyone involved.

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Coping with SAD

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Men's Health, Mental Health, Uncategorized, Women's Health | No Comments

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder / SAD – How to Beat the Winter Blues

If you notice yourself getting down when temperatures start to drop, you could suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It’s more than just feeling a bit gloomy – SAD is a recognised condition with millions of people experiencing symptoms at winter time. Thankfully, there are some easy steps you can take to stop the change in season from affecting your mood.

Follow the Light

Researchers have demonstrated a clear link between reduced light exposure and a drop in mental health for many people during the winter months. As the days get shorter but work hours remain the same, it can be hard for people to get enough natural light into their day. This is turn affects mood, sleep habits and can have other side effects like poor vitamin D levels.

If SAD is getting you down, you might have to think of creative ways to get more light into your day. If you can choose to sit next to a window at work, that could help you get that light ix throughout the day. Spending your lunch hour outside whenever possible is another great way to get some light. For those who can’t make it outside, light boxes can help. Setting up a bright station and spending time there daily can help life your mood.

Get Active

SAD can leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated, but try to push through and get some movement into your day. Exercise is generally recommended to help combat depression, but has some benefits that specifically relate to SAD. If your exercise takes place outside or in front of a light box it can help you get some extra light into your day, and it can work to reduce the effects of the carbohydrates often craved by people experiencing SAD. Often the cold is a reason for people to stay inside, but some light exercise can have you warm again in no time. It doesn’t have to be long or strenuous – a walk outside during your lunch break might be enough to help you feel better.

Watch Your Food

Craving carbohydrate-rich food is a recognised symptom of SAD, and it can lead to a downwards shift in your mood, not to mention the physical effects and potential weight gain. If you’re tempted to fill your plate with comforting carbs, try to look for other solutions. Protein-rich meals will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Try swapping an omelette instead of cereal, and a chicken salad instead of a chicken sandwich. Fruit can help meet your cravings for sweet, but are also full of fibre and nutrients.

Sleep Soundly

How you sleep has a massive effect on your mood, and SAD can send your sleep patterns into a downwards spiral. Napping through the day, feeling lethargic and missing the usual light cues that help your brain wake up can disturb your sleep patterns. Try to help your body’s natural processes along. When you wake up, aim for bright lights and lots of activity. Instead of letting the lethargy glue you to the couch, try to fight it with activity. Then when sleep time comes around, low lights (especially minimising bright screens at least an hour before bed), and a warm, comfortable environment can help you drift off and sleep soundly.

If you are finding symptoms hard to shake off, if SAD is significantly affecting your life or if making basic changes doesn’t seem to be having an effect, it’s a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your GP. For most people, however, it won’t take much to boost your mood. You don’t have to succumb to the winter blues – a few basic changes should have you back to normal in no time.

Mind Your Stress – How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Life

By | General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Mental Health

Mind Your Stress – How Mindfulness Can Improve Your Life

 

 

Do you ever feel stressed, overwhelmed or anxious? It’s easy for life to become stressful, but mindfulness techniques can give you the tools to manage how you respond to the situations you’re in. Mindfulness is helpful for anyone, of any age, gender, religion or occupation. Here’s how you can become more mindful.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness encourages our brains to think clearly and focus on the present, instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. It’s easy to get into the habit of living life with your mind elsewhere – whether you’re eating, spending time with friends and family or working, we can become distracted and not fully present. Mindfulness techniques help you get off autopilot, feel better and reduce stress.

Most mindfulness techniques come from meditation principles. The aim of mindfulness is not to completely clear the mind, but to calm your thoughts and become more aware. The techniques are suitable for everybody and are backed by scientific studies as a way to reduce stress, increase self-awareness and improve mental health.

What are the benefits?

There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness techniques. There have been many studies that show real improvements for people who learn to be more mindful. Mindfulness can help you to:

  • Help with concentration
  • Improve the ability to relax
  • Reduce stress, anxiety and depression
  • Become more self-aware
  • Calm your nervous system
  • Improve the quality of your sleep
  • Clear your head

How do you become more mindful?

Basic techniques will encourage you to become aware of your surroundings and observe your own feelings, thoughts, and the input from your five senses, without judging or analysing. Mindfulness is a habit that you need to cultivate over time to get the best results. Your mind will want to wander, especially when you’re learning, but calmly return to what you’re doing. You might have thoughts come, but try to let them pass without analysing them.

You might want to try mindful meditation, where you sit quietly and focus on your breathing or a word or phrase. Mindful breathing is another technique that requires you to stop for a short while and think about your breathing – how it feels, how it sounds, how it affects your body. Progressive muscle relaxation is another common technique that involves tensing your muscles from toes to head, and then slowly relaxing each part of your body.

Where can you find more information?

There are plenty of resources available that can help you learn mindfulness techniques and make them a part of your daily life. The Smiling Mind app and ReachOut Breathe app are great options. There are plenty of great online resources available. If you are having trouble managing your stress, anxiety and/or depression, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP about your options. We are all able to benefit from being more mindful – it’s worth practicing.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss mental health –>

Thinking Positively About Mental Health

By | Men's Health, Mental Health, Women's Health

Thinking Positively About Mental Health

 

 

People tend to view mental health from the perspective of an illness – either you have a mental health disorder, or you are mentally healthy. In fact, good mental health is a positive state that every person can work towards.

The World Health Organization defines good mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises 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.”

Here are some facts about mental health that might challenge your perceptions.

Mental health disorders are experienced by a large and diverse group of Australians.

The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing surveyed the mental health of the Australian population. Their study showed that 45.5% of Australians had experienced a mental disorder at one point in their lives, and 20% had experienced a disorder in the last 12 months – almost 3.2 million Australians. Regardless of gender, age or culture, good mental health is vital.

Mental health is not just about disorders.

While it is important to address mental health conditions, everyone should prioritise their mental health – even if they are never diagnosed with a disorder. Feelings of anger, anxiety, sadness, tension, or simply feeling down are normal emotions, but when they persist they can negatively affect mental health. There are many steps you can take on your own to work on your mental health, but if these feelings are disrupting your daily life it’s important to seek outside help.

You can improve your mental health.

There are a number of ways you can work towards positive mental health – although remember that it is normal and ok to need outside help. Some ideas to help you stay mentally healthy are:

  • Focus on good nutrition and exercise
  • Get good, regular sleep
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol and drug use
  • Talk about your feelings (or express them in a way that is natural to you)
  • Set realistic goals
  • Practice relaxation
  • Try new things and challenge yourself
  • Spend time with friends and family

Good mental health is a positive pursuit.

There is often a social stigma around people with mental health disorders, which can prevent people from seeking help. Some people don’t identify with needing to improve their mental health if they don’t have a “condition”. The truth is, mental health is about functioning well in all areas of life, having significant social connections, good self-esteem and being able to deal with change.

If you have any concerns about your mental health, whether you identify with having a “condition” or whether you could just use some support, your GP is a great place to start looking for information. Think positively – improving your mental health is about helping you to live your best life, and it’s worth pursuing.

Click here to make an appointment with a GP to discuss improving your mental health —>

Dealing with Dementia – Tips for Addressing the Practical Needs of Dementia Sufferers

By | Elderly and aging, Mental Health

Dealing with Dementia – Tips for Addressing the Practical Needs of Dementia Sufferers

 

 

Caring for someone with dementia is a life-changing responsibility. Whether you choose to be the primary carer or part of a wider team, dementia is a condition that will require a lot of love, compassion and patience. Planning ahead can help your family be prepared for the challenges and rewards that are in the future. Here are some practical areas to keep in mind.

Nutrition

Eating and drinking needs to be carefully monitored, even if they are in an aged care home, because people with dementia can forget to eat and can also have problems with swallowing. If you have checked with a doctor that there isn’t a treatable reason behind a lack of appetite (such as dental pain or depression), try offering smaller meals regularly, preferably made of familiar foods. In later stages you may need to demonstrate chewing and consider nutritional supplements. Don’t forget to offer lots of liquids, especially in hot weather.

Hygiene

People with dementia often lose interest in caring for themselves, especially in the area of basic hygiene. Choose a time when they are calm and create a relaxing, soothing environment with everything laid out and simple instructions. People with dementia might have fears that you can help provide a solution to; for example, a fear of falling might need a sturdy shower seat with a handheld shower head.

Continence

Losing control of the bladder/bowel commonly occurs in dementia, and it’s important to maintain as much privacy and dignity as possible. Make going to the toilet as easy as possible, with clear lighting at night and bathroom installations to help them get on and off, and clothing that is easy to fasten and unfasten. People often fall into patterns of when they use the toilet and give non-verbal cues for when they need to go, so you can use those patterns to help suggest they go to the toilet. Continence pads and aids are available if necessary.

Support

As a carer of someone with dementia, it is more important than ever that you look after your own basic needs, as well as theirs. You don’t have to do it alone. Get financial, emotional and physical assistance wherever possible. A National Dementia Helpline is available on 1800 100 500 if you need information. Other groups include Alzheimer’s Australia, Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service, and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Your GP can provide further information about support networks available to provide care for your loved one. When caring for someone with dementia, and especially when looking after their practical needs, it’s a good idea to establish an ongoing relationship with a GP so that you can work together to address health concerns as they come up. A good support network and lots of information goes a log way to ease the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia.

Click here if you would like to book in to see a GP to discuss dementia –>

 

Meditation – It’s Not What You Think

By | Lifestyle, Mental Health

Meditation – It’s Not What You Think

 

While meditation has often been associated with Eastern religions, different styles of meditation are practiced in most of the major religions and philosophical practices. In modern times, non-religious meditation has become more popular as the scientific evidence of its benefits keeps building up. Here are some facts about meditation that will have you looking for inner peace.

Meditation can change your brain

Many studies have proven that meditation can reduce anxiety and stress, and can even help with depression. Meditation and relaxation techniques have been shown to decrease cognitive decline. Meditation has been seen to increase people’s overall feelings of well-being, making them feel happier and calmer in everyday life.

Meditation has very real health benefits

Other potential outcomes include benefiting the central nervous system, the immune system, improving lower back pain, and promoting relaxation. Having lowered levels of stress and anxiety can help your body to deal with illnesses, and can even help lower blood pressure.

Meditation doesn’t have to be done on the floor

While many people visualise the cross-legged lotus position when thinking about meditation, the truth is that meditation can be done anywhere that you are relaxed and comfortable. Sitting on a chair or a bed is perfectly fine, but try to avoid somewhere you are likely to fall asleep. Some people even prefer to meditate while moving – either slow, gentle movements such as yoga or tai chi, or even while doing repetitive movements like housework.

Meditation has different techniques

Meditation comes in many varieties. The type of meditation used has been shown to have a different effect on different people, meaning that if one method is not working, it might be helpful to try another kind. Some basic suggestions are:

  • Focusing on an object – focus your attention on an object, noticing how it looks and sounds, the colours and shapes, any patterns you can see. Try not to actively think or analyse, just peacefully observe.
  • Emptying the mind – letting the mind clear and not letting any specific thoughts enter.
  • Using a mantra – repeat a word or phrase over and over, in time with your breath, to focus your attention.
  • Mindfulness – focusing on the neutral observation of inner experiences like thoughts, memories, feelings or sensations.
  • Breathing – focus your attention on your breath coming in and out of your nostrils while you relax.

Meditation can be taught

While many meditation practices can be self-taught, some people benefit from lessons and prefer to be in a community.  The benefits of meditation come from regular practice, so having a class can help you make meditation a habit.

If you are having serious problems with anxiety, stress or depression, make sure you discuss it with your GP before starting any new program.

Coping with Anxiety

By | Mental Health

Coping with Anxiety

Anxiety – that shivery feeling in your chest, and adrenaline running down through your fingers – no one enjoys it, but so many experience it.

 

Anxiety is defined as ‘a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.’ But it’s not just feeling stressed or worried – it’s when these feelings don’t go away. It’s when they happen at a time that you wouldn’t expect to feel anxious – without reason or cause.

It’s also very very common – 1 in 4 Australians will experience it at some point in their life! The good news it that the sooner you get help with your anxiety, the more likely you are to recover.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

It’s important to understand that there is a difference between ‘normal anxiety’ and an anxiety condition. Normal anxiety is usually associated with an event or situation at a specific point in time. However, an anxiety condition is where the feelings of anxiety are persistent or frequent. They can effect your quality of life and how you function day to day. Each person may experience anxiety slightly differently, but Beyond Blue has summarized the common symptoms, which include:

  • Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
  • Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
  • Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life

What kind of treatments are there for anxiety?

There are many different kinds of treatments, which can be explored depending on what kind of anxiety you’re facing.

Things you could try through the support of a health professional, such as a GP include:

  • Lifestyle changes – physical exercise, meditation
  • Psychological treatments / talking therapies – to help support you through your experience of anxiety and teach you tools and habits to help to reduce worries and keep your anxiety under control
  • Medical treatments – including antidepressants, which are designed to correct chemical imbalances.

The key to handling anxiety, is finding a support system and an approach to treatment that helps you feel as though you are regaining control and where you feel you can be open and comfortable to discuss the worries on your mind. A GP is able to listen to you, get to know your unique circumstances and then work collaboratively with you through things. They can suggest approaches that may be most suited to you, and travel through the journey by your side. Sometimes, taking the first step is the hardest, but also the one where you make the most progress.

 

If you need to see a GP to discuss anxiety, you can book one here –>

8 questions about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Mental Health, Women's Health

8 questions you might have about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety 

Are you a new or expecting parent? Have you had feelings of depression or anxiety? If so, you’re not alone.

 

What are the stats?

1 in 10 expecting mothers and 1 in 20 expecting dads struggle with antenatal (before child birth) depression. Additionally, 1 in 7 new mums and 1 in 10 new dads are diagnosed with postnatal (after child birth) depression each year.

 

And what about anxiety?

Unfortunately, even more new and expecting parents suffer from anxiety.

 

So what does this mean for me?

Adjusting to having a new baby is something that all parents should expect and prepare for. It’s usually a temporary adjustment, and might include some feelings of ‘baby blues’ for the first few days. So if you feel teary, anxious or moody during this time it’s not something to be overly alarmed by. But when these feelings last beyond the first few days and worsen, it could be time to reach out for help.

 

What should I be looking out for?

Keep an eye out for some of the common signs of postnatal depression such as:

  • Feeling like you’ve failed or are inadequate as a parent
  • Having a sense of hopelessness about the future
  • Having a very low mood that continues for long periods of time
  • Worrying excessively about your baby
  • Feeling scared of being alone or scared of going out
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, worthless,
  • Feeling exhausted, empty sad and teary
  • Having trouble sleeping, sleeping for too long or having nightmares

 

What if I’m experiencing things that are scaring me?

In some situations you might experience thoughts that are confronting to you, such as leaving your family, or worrying that your partner will leave you. If you have these thoughts, or thoughts about self-harm or harming your baby or partner, please seek professional help right away.

 

Who can I reach out to?

Your family and friends.

Your GP – at HealthMint our GPs are particularly good at helping people through depression and anxiety. They take the time to listen and work through things with you to put you on a path to feeling better.

Phone services:

GLOW Clinic – a Perinatal Emotional Health and Wellbeing Clinic, which offers a combination of support.

 

What help is available?

Family and friends are the obvious go-to, but in some situations, just having a friendly face to speak to outside of your family can be a big help. So you may find that having regular visits with a good GP helps to alleviate your symptoms and make you feel relaxed and in control of your health. A GP can also keep an eye on your symptoms, and help you to determine whether what you’re experiencing needs further help. Together with your doctor you could explore things like:

  • Counselling
  • Group treatment
  • Medications such as anti-depressants
  • Developing support strategies
  • Diet and exercise
  • Yoga and mindfulness

So what’s the take home message?

You are absolutely not alone. There are people both within your immediate support network, as well as professionals that are ready and willing to help you. If this article encourages you to take the first step, then you are already a step closer to feeling better.

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