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A Guide to Getting Through Panic Attacks

Did you know that around 5% of Australians will experience panic disorder in their lifetime? For those affected, panic attacks can take a real toll on their overall wellbeing. These bouts of anxiety can feel uncontrollable and unpredictable, making them even harder to live with.

The good news is that with the right information and techniques, panic attacks can be managed and overcome. Whether you experience them yourself or know someone who does, here is our simple guide to understanding and overcoming them.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, Ok To Talk can help you find a great psychologist. Get started using our fast and FREE online service today!

What is a panic attack?

A panic or ‘anxiety attack’ can be described as a sudden, overwhelming feeling of anxiety. In some cases, the cause of the anxiety might be known. In others, it could seemingly have no obvious cause at all.

Regardless of why it happens, these bouts of intense anxiety can be incredibly hard to manage. They are often brief, in many cases only lasting a few minutes. However, the physical and emotional symptoms can be very intense, leaving the sufferer unsure of what to do.

Symptoms of an anxiety attack:

Anxiety attacks can look different from person to person. However, there are many common symptoms, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach and chest pain
  • Trembling and sweating
  • Nausea
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • An overwhelming sense of fear or danger
  • Strong feelings of distress and unease
  • Inability to easily calm down

How to manage a panic attack

While experiencing a panic attack can be really hard, there are a few things you can do to help calm yourself. Here are a few of our top suggestions:

Identify your panic attack

When you’re having a panic attack, you might feel like nothing will ever be okay again. These worrying thoughts can make your anxiety even worse, which is why identifying that you’re having a panic attack can be the first step in calming yourself. Tell yourself that this period of anxiety will soon be over, and that you will be okay afterwards.

Focus on your breathing

During a panic attack, your heart-rate can quicken and make you feel out of breath. Feeling as though you can’t breathe properly may then lead to even more anxiety. This is why it’s a good idea to focus your mind on your breathing. Try breathing in through your mouth for 3 seconds, then out through your mouth for 3 seconds. Do this until your heartrate slows and you begin to feel calmer.

Go for a walk

Getting some fresh air and moving your body can help to calm yourself. A short, 5-minute walk around the block could be enough to take your mind off your anxiety and make you feel better.

Get to a safe space

Panic attacks can make us feel that we are in immediate danger. While this feeling might not be rational, going to a safe and comfortable space can help you calm down. It’s important to note that although taking care of yourself in the moment is encouraged, this approach should only be used as a short-term solution. Continuously leaving or avoiding specific situations or places can reinforce your anxiety in the long-term – which we don’t want.

The key to overcoming this problem is seeking professional help from a psychologist, who can teach you effective techniques to manage your feelings during a panic attack. Our free online service can help you find a great psychologist anywhere in Australia. It takes just a few minutes, so get started today!

Myths about panic attacks:

Panic attacks can be really scary, but there are some common (and dangerous) myths out there that can make them seem even more frightening. Here are a few misconceptions:

You can die from a panic attack

It’s important to understand that the symptoms you feel during a panic attack – such as shortness of breath, chest pain and dizziness – cannot kill you. This can often make you feel as though something is medically wrong. However, the symptoms of a panic attack are all simply a strong physical reaction to anxiety. These symptoms and a panic attack itself cannot kill you.

However, if you are unsure whether or not you are experiencing a serious medical problem or if your symptoms persist longer than usual for a panic attack, please contact a medical professional. It’s always best to be on the safe side!

You can’t ‘cure’ panic attacks

Like any mental illness, anxiety is something that can be overcome with the appropriate treatment. If your anxiety is impacting your life or if you are regularly having panic attacks, seeing a psychologist can help. Our free online service can help you find the right psychologist for your needs anywhere in Australia – so get started today!

You can’t do anything to help someone having a panic attack

While you cannot ‘take away’ someone’s anxiety during a panic attack, you can support them. If you know that a friend or family member often has panic attacks, it’s a good idea to have a conversation about what you can do to help them. This could be something as simple as guiding them to a quiet area, getting them some water or simply giving them some space to manage the experience in a way that works for them.

Seeing a psychologist is a great way to overcome mental illness. Use our free service to find one anywhere in Australia within a matter of minutes!

5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health in 2019

If taking care of your mental health is a goal for you in 2019, it’s important to create a plan of how you will get there. One way to do this is by being mindful of behaviours or habits that might contribute to stress, anxiety or depression. For many people, identifying which areas to change can be hard. This is why we’ve come up with 5 common areas where a change in mindset or behaviour can really make a difference.

Keep reading to learn our top tips for improving your mental health…

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, Ok To Talk can help you find professional help. Get started using our fast and FREE online service today!

  1. Put yourself first

Before you rule this out for fear of being selfish, allow us to explain. When it comes to your mental health, sometimes you simply need to put your needs ahead of others. This could mean saying no to helping a friend if you need some down time. Or perhaps skipping out on that birthday party because you simply don’t feel up to it.

Putting yourself first isn’t anything to feel guilty about. In order to live happy, healthy lives, we need to learn to rest and care for ourselves. Identifying when you might need some self-care time, or when situations might not be best for your mental health, is a great step towards happiness. Try doing this when you feel it will benefit you and be mindful of whether it makes a difference!

 

  1. Seek professional help 

Seeking professional mental health help can be a tough decision to make. However, if you’ve been struggling with mental illness such as anxiety, depression or addiction, it can really be a game changer.

Psychologists don’t simply tell you what to do. These professionals are trained to help people manage and overcome mental health conditions. This means teaching you realistic, effective techniques that will assist you when dealing with the problems you face. This could include ways to calm anxious thoughts, or strategies to overcome those demotivating ‘down’ days that often come along with depressive episodes.

Even better, in Australia, we’re lucky to have access to subsidised psychologist sessions. This makes seeing a psychologist much more affordable. You can read our blog on how to get a Mental Health Treatment Plan to learn more about the subsidy.

You can also use Ok To Talk’s free online service to find a psychologist suited to your location, needs and budget in just a matter of minutes!

  1. Speak to someone you trust

Carrying the weight of mental illness all on your own can be tough. And while admitting how you’re feeling might be scary, it can really make a difference. Talking to someone you trust – such as a friend, family member, teacher or doctor – is a great first step.

When we keep everything bottled up inside, our emotions can begin to feel overwhelming. Saying how we’re feeling out loud can help us feel better in a number of ways. First of all, the act of verbally explaining your thoughts and emotions can help you to understand them in new ways. Second, confiding in others can help you feel less alone, because you know you have someone to turn to when you need it. So, the next time you are feeling down or on edge, try speaking to someone you trust and see how you feel afterwards!

  1. Speak to yourself differently

The way you think and speak about yourself has a huge effect on your mental health. If you’re always putting yourself down, it can impact your overall mood and perspective. This includes how you talk to yourself in your own head, too! Whether it’s critical thoughts about your looks, weight, job,school performance or something else entirely, it’s important to treat yourself with love and kindness.

A great way to do this is to ask yourself, “would I treat my friend this way?” The truth is that we don’t criticise or judge our friends, because we never want to make them feel bad. We see their amazing qualities for what they are and are understanding and compassionate when they’re going through a tough time.

So, instead of thinking something like “I did so badly on that test, I’m so stupid”, ask yourself “what would I say to my friend?”. The answer is probably something along the lines of, “you tried your hardest and you’ll do better next time!” As you begin to use positive, kind words towards yourself, you might notice a difference in your overall mood.

  1. Get active

You’ve probably heard that exercise can positively impact your mental health. But what if you’re not someone who loves the gym or going for a run? Well, we have good news for you! Studies have shown that doing just 1.5-2hrs of exercise each week can have great effects on your mental health. And you don’t even need to do it all at once. As long as you do this amount of exercise in the week, you will reap the benefits.

If you’re someone who doesn’t love exercise, try mixing up the way you get active in 2019. Ask a friend if they’d like to walk to your local café instead of drive. Invest in a bike and use it to make short trips here and there. You can even make a habit of taking your dog out for a walk first thing in the morning or before it gets dark at night – two great ways to start and end your day! Whatever way works for you is the perfect way to get active!

If you are living with an eating disorder or a mental illness of any kind, seeking professional help can be a great step towards recovery. Ok To Talk offers a free service that matches Australians with a psychologist suited to their needs, budget and location.

Visit www.oktotalk.com.au today to find a psychologist within minutes!

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How Ariel Kaplan Overcame Her Eating Disorder

Please note: This blog contains detailed information about disordered eating. This may be confronting for people who have experienced this type of illness.

Eating disorders affect approximately 16% of the Australian population – and yet these mental health conditions are still widely misunderstood. Actress and personal trainer Ariel Kaplan knows this all too well. Having lived through her own struggle with an eating disorder, she is now passionate about living a healthy, balanced life. After seeking support from friends, family and a psychologist, she now uses her story to help others.

We spoke to Ariel about how she found professional help and what advice she has for those who might be struggling…

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, Ok To Talk can help you find professional help. Get started using our fast and FREE online service today!

Can you tell us a bit about your eating disorder and how it impacted your life?

My eating disorder developed to its full extent when I was about 18/19 years old. It started off as a completely innocent attempt to get fit and healthy, and within a very short space of time it became an obsession and an addiction. I was very fortunate to only be in the depths of my disorder for around a year, and while that year was the worst of my life, I still count myself as lucky because I know people can spend years upon years struggling with an ED.

It changed every single aspect of my life and took away anything that made me who I am. Every thought was about food, every waking moment was spent worrying about how I would control my next meal or not eat more calories than the day before. I genuinely struggle to remember what it was like because that entire year of my life is a total blur, it was as if my mind was shutting down, so it could focus on one thing only. People around me tell me that I was unrecognisable, not just physically but my personality and soul seemed to just disappear. I was truly a shell of a person and I can whole heartedly say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through to this day.

When did you realise that you needed to get help for your illness?

I think I realised quite a long time before I took the steps to actually getting help. I was very aware of what eating disorders were after growing up in the acting and dancing industry with two older sisters; it wasn’t something foreign to me. While my intentions were completely positive and pure at the beginning, I think within months deep down I knew I had spiralled to a point where I was no longer healthy, and more importantly – no longer in control. It was not until I finally broke down to my Mum, probably months after realising how serious it was, that I actually agreed to go get help.

What did you find to be the most effective forms of professional help for you? (Therapy, in-patient treatment etc)

I was fortunate enough to very narrowly miss being put into hospital/in-patient treatment. I was given a few months to prove I could do it on my own otherwise I’d be sent to treatment and I would lose my job and everything I had worked so hard for. So that is when I knew I had to get better, and I did that with the help of a psychologist who was also a certified nutritionist.

She was incredible, she gave me cold hard facts, she was honest and upfront but still caring and thoughtful. I am someone who responds well to honesty and being logical, and she really was the perfect psychologist for me. I know there are some out there who may not be trained in eating disorders so I think it’s very important to find the right person for you.

Was there anything stopping you from getting help? E.g. a fear of being judged, financial issues etc.

Absolutely. The hardest part of an eating disorder is that voice that doesn’t want you to get better. There were no external factors stopping me, everyone else was so encouraging and supportive in getting me help. The only person/thing stopping me was me. The eating disorder becomes your identity and you feel like it’s the only thing that makes you special. It felt as if I no longer was sick, then what would I have?

It sounds absolutely insane in hindsight and to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, but the thought of relinquishing control and losing all of this ‘progress’ I thought I had made is quite literally the most petrifying experience you can imagine.

There are is a lot of stigma and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders. Is there any one thing you wish others would understand about this illness and how it affects those living with it?

I wish people realised eating disorders are not a choice in any way, shape or form. They are chemical imbalance in the brain, a genuine illness and I can assure you that anyone who has one did NOT ask for it. It is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. We as people are so quick to judge but you never know what has led someone to where they are. People can seem to have the perfect life with everything you could dream of and yet still, something in their brain tells them they are not enough and never will be.

If you are dealing with or are close to someone going through an ED, just be patient, be kind and don’t push. Make it clear that you are there for them the second that they need you but also tell them that you know they’ll get better and you believe in them. Eating disorders only start going away when the person going through them decides that they want it to go. And it’s not just one choice, it’s every single second of every single day for a long time. Don’t underestimate the turmoil and pain an ED can cause and remember that mental illness is just as serious as physical illness.

What advice would you give anyone who might be struggling with an eating disorder (or another mental illness) and is considering getting help?

I know you feel like you will never get out of this hole, that life will never be normal again and you can’t even remember what it’s like to go out for dinner and not stress or to not check the calories on a label, but I swear to you – there is a happy ending. So many people have made it out the other side, and you will too. Maybe not today or tomorrow but believe there is an end in sight and every day work towards it.

No matter how scared you are, please try and get some form of professional help. I was cynical too, I didn’t think anyone could help me, but in a way letting someone else take control allowed me to breathe and start getting better. You are stronger than you know, and you will be yourself again. You will smile and laugh again. A happy life is so much closer than you think.

If you are living with an eating disorder or a mental illness of any kind, seeking professional help can be a great step towards recovery. Ok To Talk offers a free service that matches Australians with a psychologist suited to their needs, budget and location.

Visit www.oktotalk.com.au today to find a psychologist within minutes!

5 Influential People Who Opened Up About Mental Illness in 2018

It’s no secret that many people find it difficult to talk about mental illness. Feelings of shame and judgement can stop us from confiding in others or seeking help. However, approximately 1 in 4 people around the world struggle with a mental health condition of some kind. And when we talk about it, we help others to speak up and get help, too.

Throughout 2018, many influential people opened up about their mental health struggles. From musicians to actors and even a member of the Royal Family, it showed that mental illness can affect anyone. Most importantly, these people told us that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the influential people who spoke about mental illness this year…

Ok To Talk offers a free online service that matches Australias with the right psychologist for their needs. If you’re struggling with mental illness and need someone to talk to, click here to get started today!

Prince Harry

Prince Harry made headlines when he opened up about his mental health struggles earlier this year. Speaking in a rural town, he talked about the importance of asking for help when you need it.

“You must not silently suffer. You are all in this together and if I may speak personally we are all in this together, because asking for help was one of the best decisions that I ever made… You will be continually amazed how life changes for the better.”

This message is important as men often have trouble opening up about their mental illness. The stigma that it’s ‘weak’ or ‘shameful’ to open up about these struggles can stop people from getting help. This is why it was so powerful to see Prince Harry speaking so publicly about his own experience. It showed that getting help is important and with the right help, there is always light at the end of a dark tunnel.

Mariah Carey

In an interview, Mariah Carey revealed that she has struggled with Bipolar II for almost two decades. After being diagnosed in 2001, she said she was ‘in denial’ about her mental illness and afraid of the stigma associated with it. It wasn’t until 2018 that she began taking medication and going to therapy. These two forms of treatment has helped her manage the condition long-term.

Mariah admitted that she was at first “afraid of losing everything” if the world knew about her mental illness. This fear is one that many people face and one that can stop them from getting help. However, Mariah Carey has showed that with the right treatment, things can get better. Your illness doesn’t need to stop you from living a successful, happy life.

Chrissy Teigen

Many people assume that postpartum depression develops immediately after a woman gives birth. However, what’s less talked about is how this condition can arise up to 12 months later, too. Actress and model Chrissy Teigen experienced this mental illness ‘sneaking up on her’ after giving birth to her first child. Earlier this year, she opened up about how “sometimes it [post-natal depression] takes time to kick in.” Most importantly, she wanted women to know that it’s okay to speak up and ask for help if they need it.

“I thought postpartum was, you have the baby and you’re sad. It was like, no. It sneaks up on a lot of people. That’s why I thought it was important for me to talk about.”

The stigma associated with postpartum depression often stops people from speaking about it. Because of this, many women found comfort and reassurance in Chrissy’s words. Her experience shows that postpartum depression can affect any new mother, and it is never something to feel ashamed of.

Ariana Grande

After a tough couple of years, Ariana Grande spoke out about her experience with depression and anxiety. On Twitter, she spoke about how therapy has ‘saved her life so many times.’ Her own positive experiences lead her to encourage others to reach out for help if  they need it. Earlier in the year, she also spoke about how we need to pay more attention to mental health as a society. She encouraged others to pay closer attention to their loved ones. By doing this, we can make sure people are getting the help they need.

As such an influential artist, it’s amazing to see Ariana Grande speaking so openly about her struggles. Conversations like these help to break down the stigma associated with mental illness.

Little Mix

Being in the public eye, Little Mix know how body-shaming can affect someone’s confidence and mental health. This is why the group used their music video for ‘Strip’ to encourage fans to feel comfortable in their own skin. Women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and abilities starred in the video. Beauty is found in diversity, and the group demonstrated this perfectly.

In Australia, women who diet severely are most at risk of developing an eating disorder. On top of this, women who frequently diet are 5x more likely to develop depression. It’s not hard to see how body-shaming can severely impact a person’s mental wellbeing. The conversation Little Mix started about this issue is one that we hope continues throughout 2019!

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, Ok To Talk can help. Our online psychologist matching service is 100% free. All you need to do is spend a few minutes signing up and we’ll help you find the right professional for your needs! Click here to get started now!

AMANDA’S MENTAL HEALTH JOURNEY

With 1 in 5 Australians suffering from mental illness, it’s safe to say we all know someone who might be struggling. And yet, mental health is still an issue that isn’t talked about as often as it should be. Here at Ok To Talk, we believe we can all benefit from hearing other people’s mental health journey’s.

That’s why we’re starting a new blog series: one where we chat to people who come from different mental health backgrounds and experiences. Together, we can overcome the stigma attached to mental illness.

If you’re struggling with mental illness of any kind and are looking for professional help, Ok To Talk can help. Our free, online service helps Australians find psychologists all over the country. Start the process today by answering a few simple questions!

Amanda’s Story…

Amanda has lived with mental illness – specifically anxiety and depression – for many years. This is something she speaks about it publicly on her Instagram and YouTube. We decided to sit down and ask her a few questions about getting help, going to therapy and overcoming her struggles.

Can you tell us a bit about what mental illness(es) you’ve struggled with throughout your life?

For as long as I can remember I have been an anxious person, but I wasn’t officially ‘diagnosed’ with anxiety until I was 22. My worst anxiety was in 2016 when I developed a deep fear of death + the unknown, to the point of not being able to drive, sleep or shower alone. This slowly developed into depression which I was diagnosed with in 2017. Both my anxiety and depression have since been very present in my life, but I find come and go in waves. In late 2017, I felt more depressed than I ever had before.

How has mental illness impacted your life?

I try and see the good in my mental illness. It has taught me gratitude and how to be an open, honest communicator. In a bizarre way, I am grateful for the illness – but it has certainly had negative impacts on my life, too. It has affected my relationships – specifically, romantic ones – and I have struggled to keep a steady job due to my anxiety.

How has therapy helped you to overcome or manage your mental illness?

Therapy is one of the main things that has continued to help me on my mental health journey. I have seen a few therapists throughout different times in my life, but found an amazing one in late 2016 who I was with up until I moved interstate. My therapist did “acceptance and commitment” therapy with me which I find continues to give me a greater understanding of the illness I have and how to manage it. I feel like I have a strong relationship with my therapist which has made me a very open and honest communicator in my day-to-day life.

What was the point at which you thought you needed to get professional help?

In late 2016, I was in a romantic relationship and my anxiety got to a point where my boyfriend had to drive me everywhere and had to sleep at my house or I sleep at his. Then, I became anxious even when I was showering so he had to shower with me and/or stand in the bathroom and talk to me whilst I showered. Around the same time, my anxiety started to impact my work and I decided it was time to get professional help.

What advice would you give anyone who might be struggling with mental illness and considering getting help?

My best advice is to always try different therapists if you don’t feel comfortable with the one you are seeing. I have seen many, many therapists in my life but have only really connected and felt comfortable with one – and she was able to help me the most. I believe that therapy is an amazing help with mental illness and also a great motivator for change, it’s all about finding the right one.

If you’re dealing with your own mental health journey, you don’t need to do it alone. Click here to use our free service to find a psychologist suited to your needs anywhere in Australia.

A Guide to Mental Health for Mums and Dads

We’re not going to sugar-coat it – being a parent can be tough. Whether you’ve just had your first child or are the loving parent of many kids, it’s not uncommon for your mental health to take a hit. Many mums and dads will tell you that feeling overwhelmed, stressed and sad is actually kind of normal! So, how do you know if you’re just having a few bad days or if it’s something more? And what do you do if you are suffering from mental health issues?

Here’s what you need to know about dealing with mental illness as a mum or dad…

Are they bad days or something more?

Everyone has bad days. Days when we’re feeling low, angry, anxious, stressed or sad. Sometimes these feelings are influenced by a certain event or experience, and sometimes they don’t have any obvious reason at all. Having a bad day every so often is normal. But if they are a regular occurrence and something you don’t feel you have control of, it might point to a more serious issue.

If you think you are suffering from a mental illness – or even if you’re unsure – it’s important to reach out for help. It’s very common for parents to grapple with whether or not they will benefit from professional help or not. If this is the situation you’re finding yourself in, it’s best to pay a visit to your GP. They will be able to do a quick and easy assessment of how you’re doing and let you know whether therapy is something that can help. More often than not, people who have a feeling they could benefit from professional help are correct!

While seeing your GP is the best and quickest way to address your mental health concerns, we understand that some people might be hesitant. If this is the case for you, it can be a good idea to keep a mood diary for a few weeks. This means writing down how you’re feeling each day. You can do this simply by writing down words to describe your emotions that day, such as anxious, sad or stressed.

At the end of one or two weeks, take a look back at the diary and ask yourself, “do I want my mood to look like this in the future, or do I want it to change?”. If you do want it to change – that is, if you want to feel happier – it’s a good idea to seek help from a good psychologist.

Finding effective treatment without breaking the bank

For many parents, adding another expense onto their list of things to pay for isn’t an option. But that’s okay, because seeing a psychologist doesn’t have to be expensive. With a Mental Health Treatment Plan, you can get a rebate on up to 10 therapy sessions. To do this, you just have to visit your GP and explain a bit about your mental health struggles. You can then tell them you would like to see a psychologist to work through these issues.

For most people, a Mental Health Treatment Plan makes the cost of therapy far more affordable. And here at Ok To Talk, we make sure to match you with a psychologist who suits your budget – whatever that might be. We can help find a psychologist who is willing to work for discounted rates or completely free, if this is what your financial situation requires.

Get started today by answering a few simple questions about who you are and what you’re looking for.

Dealing with the stigma 

Unfortunately, parents often feel shame or guilt for their mental health problems. Maybe you feel like you are failing as a parent. Perhaps you feel pressure to act

like you have everything under control at all times. Or you might feel guilty for being sad when you have a beautiful new baby in your life.

Whatever it is, it’s important to understand that you are worthy of help. For those who need it, therapy can be an act of self-love. It’s saying to yourself, “I deserve to be happy, so I will prioritise this time to work on my happiness.” Just as you would encourage your partner, friends, family or even your children to seek mental health help if they needed it, you should seek help if you aren’t feeling as balanced as you want or deserve to be.

Speak to someone you trust, whether it’s a friend, colleague, partner or family member. Reaching out can do wonders to relieve all the emotions we have bottled up inside, so be sure to try it out!

How to care for your mental health… while caring for a child

If you have young children, you might not have much time to yourself. But it’s important to recognise which activities make you feel at ease and improve your mental state. This can differ from person to person. But for parents, it might be best to think of things to do that fit with your already established schedule. Some suggestions are:

  • Reading a book before bed.
  • Watching an episode of your favourite TV show while the kids are napping.
  • Taking the stroller and going for a short walk around the block every day.
  • Taking the time to cook yourself a nutritional breakfast you enjoy.
  • Joining a parents group.
  • Organising for someone to babysit for one afternoon every week so you can have some ‘me’ time.

All too often, parents are so focussed on their children that they forget to take car of themselves. Making it a habit to take some time to yourself can really do wonders for your mental health. Even just a few minutes every day can make all the difference!

Find a psychologist using our free service

Whether you’re a parent or not, mental illness is something no one deserves to live with. If you’re in need of professional help, use our free service to find a psychologist suited to your budget and location.

What Can Employers Do to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace?

A new report estimates that approximately a third of Australian employees are living with a mental illness of some kind. On top of this, it’s also reported that almost half of people feel uncomfortable sharing their struggles with management.

With the numbers so high, it’s important that workplaces make efforts to care for the wellbeing of staff. This means creating a safe, open environment in which people feel comfortable sharing their mental health concerns. Here are our top tips for doing just this…

Remember, if you or someone you know is living with a mental illness, our FREE psychologist matching service can find you the help you need. Click here to get started!

Educate yourself on the symptoms and impacts of mental illness

To support people with mental illness, it only makes sense that you must first understand mental illness itself. This includes knowing what can cause it and what its symptoms are. This is why – as an employer – it’s important to take the time to educate yourself.

There are a number of ways you can do this; reading articles from trusted mental health organisations online, speaking with organisational mental health professionals or even doing a ‘mental health first aid’ course. This will help you become a more supportive employer and allow you to better understand what your staff may be dealing with on a personal level.

Encourage people to open up about their mental health

There is a huge stigma behind mental illness in the workplace. This is usually because employees are often worried about how their job may be affected if they wereto speak to someone about how they’re feeling. Feelings of shame and embarrassment can influence people to keep their feelings under wraps. Unfortunately, this often only makes things worse.

A mentally healthy workplace encourages their staff to speak about their feelings. It may be a situational issue ,such as, ‘I’m stressed about this meeting’. Or perhaps it’s part of a much bigger problem like depression or anxiety. Either way, being aware of how your team is doing allows you to provide them with the right support.

Building trust between you and your team is essential to making them feel comfortable talking to you. Developing professional relationships where empathy, compassion and a genuine care for the wellbeing of others is absolutely necessary when it comes to creating a mentally healthy workplace.

Offer the right support

It’s important to encourage anyone living with mental illness to get the professional help they need. While you can provide a listening ear, it’s important that they get the help of a trained mental health professional to overcome what they’re dealing with when they are ready to do so.

A good way to approach this subject is by simply asking, “do you think talking to a professional could help?” It’s normal for some people may be hesitant or nervous about the idea. In this case, be sure to remind them that therapy is a great way to overcome mental illness. Helping them find a psychologist who suits their needs can make them feel more positive about the process of getting help. Allowing your employees to take ‘mental health sick days’ by getting a doctors certificate is also a great initiative. This will allow them to practice some self-care during those times when they are struggling – without fearing any repercussions.

At the end of the day, however, different people choose to seek help at different times. So, if one of your employees is very hesitant to the idea of professional help, it’s best to not force the situation.

Check in with your team

Encouraging staff to open up is important, but it’s also necessary to be proactive about checking in with them. If you’ve noticed that one of your employees has seemed down, quiet or simply ‘not themselves’, have a quick chat with them about how they’re feeling.

This can be a great way to gauge whether something is wrong. From here, you can hopefully discuss with them what can be done to improve their situation. It might be something personal and completely unrelated to work. Or perhaps it’s the stress of a big project or a disagreement with a colleague that has got them down. Whatever it is, if you take the time to ask them about it, you can offer them the right support sooner rather than later. 

Create a positive and encouraging workplace culture

No one wants to work in a negative, highly stressful, unhappy environment. After all, we spend so much of our time in the workplace. It only makes sense that how we feel when we’re there can impact our personal life, too.

A mentally healthy workplace culture is one that people feel good about working in. It’s made up of team members who genuinely respect and care for one another, offers support where it is needed and encourages personal and professional growth. While everyone is there to do their job, remember that staff wellbeing is an incredibly important part of any workplace.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, Ok To Talk is here for you. Our free, easy-to-use online service helps you find a suitable psychologist for your location, budget and needs. Get started today to see why people all over Australia use our service to start feeling better.

Simple Ways to Help on World Mental Health Day

If you live in Australia, you most likely know someone who has a mental illness. Perhaps it’s your mum, your brother, your best friend or maybe even yourself. This is because 1 in 5 people throughout the country suffer from mental health problems. And of the estimated 4 million people affected, few reach out for help. This is largely due to the stigma attached to mental illness, which often makes people feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit they’re suffering.

world mental health day

So how can we turn these statistics around?

Here at Ok To Talk, we are passionate about helping Australians find a psychologist who works for them. Our free service has helped thousands of people, but we know there is still a long way to go. That’s why, on October 10, we’re asking you to join us in shedding some light on the issue of mental illness for World Mental Health Day. There are many small but important ways you can play a role in ending this harmful stigma. This could be…

  • Starting a conversation about mental health with your friends or family.
  • Making a social media post about World Mental Health Day (you can even use the one we made)
  • Sharing your own personal experience with mental illness. This could be online or with someone you trust.
  • Asking someone who you may think is struggling whether they want to talk about their mental health.

In order to improve the mental health and happiness of Australians, we must begin by talking about it – really talking about it. Only then will we be able to help other live the happy, healthy lives they deserve.

Find out more about our free psychologist matching service today.

Read some of our previous blogs to learn more about mental health:

– 4 Signs That You Might Need a Psychologist

– 4 Common Reasons You Don’t Want to See a Psych

Giving Advice: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal

Motivating Mental Health Wallpapers For Your Phone

When you’re struggling with your mental health, it can be hard to keep a positive mindset – especially on your worst days. To help you along your journey, we’ve come up with 5 motivating phone wallpapers that you can use to remind yourself of just how important, loved and capable of healing you are.

Take a look at the designs below and click on your favourite to download!

    

If you’re struggling with mental illness, Ok To Talk can match you with the right psychologist for your needs. It’s fast and gets you on the right track to achieving your mental health goals. Click here to start the process today!

While you’re here, why not take a look at a few of our previous blogs?

Giving Advice: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal

What To Do Between Sessions With Your Psychologist

4 Common Mental Health Disorders Explained

Giving Advice: What You Should and Shouldn’t Do

When someone we love is going through a tough time, we often try to solve their problem by giving advice. This makes sense, right? After all, we don’t want our friends or family to feel upset, so why wouldn’t we try to fix it?

While this is a common attitude, it’s not always the most effective way to help someone. Listening is often a much better option, so make sure you read our blog on how to be the best listener possible. Even mental health professionals almost always refrain from giving advice because people have the power to make their own choices. You might think you’re helping, but solving someone’s problems for them isn’t very empowering. If you help them understand how best to work through a problem on their own though, this knowledge will benefit them in the future.

Of course, there are times when giving advice might be necessary to help someone through a tough time. When you do this, it’s best to take a measured approach and ensure that what you suggest is genuinely helpful. Take a look at the following instructions to make sure you’re giving the right advice in the right situations…

Ask the right questions

We mentioned that giving advice isn’t an empowering option for someone going through a tough time. Instead, a good way to help someone come to a solution without giving it to them is by asking questions.

Let’s say someone is deciding whether or not to quit their job. Instead of telling them what you think they should do, ask them questions which might help them reach their own decision. This could be things like…

  • What are the pros and cons of quitting your job?
  • Which is outweighing the other?
  • Why might it be challenging?
  • How would you overcome those challenges?
  • Do you think it would be a good idea? Why/why not?

By asking the right questions, your loved one will be positioned to think critically about their problem and how to solve it. This is not only great for the issue they’re currently facing, but can teach them how to problem-solve in the future as well.

Think before you speak

Giving advice should never be taken lightly. It’s important to understand that if someone follows what you say, it could have serious consequences for them. Even if you have spent a while trying to understand the problem, the reality is that you don’t know every detail of the situation.

If you are going to give suggestions, make sure that it won’t put them at any risk of harm. For example, telling someone that they should move down to part time work to improve their mental health could be dangerous. What if they can’t afford to? What if going to work each morning is actually helping their mental health rather than hindering it? If you do give advice, you should also tell the person that you want them to think it through to ensure it’s right for them.

Ultimately, you should refrain from talking in absolutes or acting as though your solution is the only option. After all, you are not in their shoes and there might be some things you haven’t considered. This is why asking questions and encouraging them to come to their own conclusion is often best.

Don’t go out of your depth

Giving advice for the sake of it isn’t beneficial to the person you’re trying to help. If you find that you don’t know how to help them, it’s best to just listen to them and make sure they feel heard. You should then aim to connect them with a professional so they can begin working through their problems.

Ok To Talk offers a simple way to do this with our free psychologist matching service. You can get started today by filling out a few simple questions.

 

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