It’s mental health awareness month at UNSW and they are holding a creative competition to raise awareness for the mental health of students.
Create an artwork based on the theme “Value your Mind” and email it, your name, student ID (UNSW students only, sorry!!) to firstname.lastname@example.org
The competition closes 04/10/15 so start creating!
Great news! The Book Depository is having a big sale including some of our favourite colouring books. They have free shipping and its usually pretty fast so get your hands on one (or three!) while they’re cheap.
Once you’ve de-stressed with your pens or pencils, take a photo of your work and send it through to us or tag us and we can share it around 🙂 remember its not all about being artistic – it’s about having fun and enjoying time to yourself!
Here are some links to our favourites:
Little Book of Colouring: In Bloom
Little Book of Colouring: Tropical Paradise
More Mindfulness Colouring
Alice in Wonderland
This isn’t a colouring book but it’s just as good!
Ultimate Maze Book
So there’s two different kinds of stress, as you probably have experienced: good stress and bad stress.
You know that feeling during exam time when you’re super focused and motivated to achieve? That’s good stress. You know that feeling when you’re overwhelmed and can’t concentrate? That’s bad stress.
Stress can give you a burst of energy that keeps you on task and motivated. This can be advantageous because it helps you reach your goals, which in turn makes you feel good – giving you more confidence for the next challenge. This good stress can also make you work more efficiently. Stress also activates the fight-or-flight response, helping you respond quickly in stressful situations.
Although this is all good, there can be times when stress is too much and it is important to be able to identify these times.
Stress that lingers and is overwhelming results in physiological and psychological symptoms that can make you even more stressed. Some of these side effects include a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, fatigue and heart problems. Stress can also contribute to an existing mental health disorder or stimulate mental processes that result in mental illness. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental illnesses resulting from excess stress so being aware of your stress levels is highly important.
Signals of too much stress
- lack of concentration
- regular illnesses
- body aches
- appetite changes
- sleeping problems
According to Mission Australia’s Youth Survey, mental disorders are the most prevalent in 18-24 year olds, and coping with stress is identified as the most concerning issue for young adults that causes mental health problems. There are many different ways of coping with stress, a simple Google search can tell you to manage your time, eat healthy, exercise regularly, and “stay positive”. But sometimes more action is needed and we must allocate “stress less” times that actively combat overwhelming stress.
Sometimes breathing exercises and meditation aren’t enough, we need something to do with our hands. Say hello to art therapy: A new place to turn when you want to get away from hectic life for a little bit. Art therapy works by taking the mind of issues and causes of stress, engaging in active meditation and gaining a sense of achievement from completed tasks.
There are so many activities that can qualify as art therapy: colouring in, sewing, pottery, painting, graphic designing, DIY décor and so many more! On InnerKid we are going to show you a few tutorials and show you why you should give art therapy a go.
Some of these activities remind us of what it was like to be a little kid, something most of us have forgotten by the age of 12. Preschool was some of the best years of our lives – all you did was play around and then have a nap in the afternoon! Life was a bit easier back then, and doing nostalgic activities can help us to “forget” about our worries for a little bit, give our brains a breather, and de-stress so we can tackle those worries when we get back. Performing activities that are considered reserved for children can connect us to child-like qualities such as innocence, forgiveness, hope, and lack of judgement.
So stay tuned to hear more about art therapy and how it can help you in your life!
So you know how to prepare for the conversation and all about R U OK day, now here’s a guide on how to ask someone how they’re feeling and open up a conversation about their mental health.
Try “how are you going?” “Are you doing okay?”
Mention specific things like “I noticed you weren’t very chatty yesterday, is everything okay?” “You’ve seemed tired a lot lately, is there anything you want to talk about?”
Now don’t talk. It’s their turn. Keep encouraging them if they feel stuck. Ask questions like “How are you feeling about that?”. Be understanding, this is very hard for them. Show that you are listening by saying things like “It sounds like you have a lot of pressure on you at the moment, it must get pretty hard sometimes”. Don’t take it personally if they get upset or angry. You’re there for them and you have to acknowledge that times might be tough for them at the moment.
- Encourage action
Help them think of things that might help. Make some suggestions or just ask “what can I do to help you through this?” If you have some advice, try suggesting it in a way that focuses on them, rather than talking about someone else’s problems. If you think it’s necessary, recommend a local Headspace centre or other professional. Be positive about them improving but keep in mind it might take some time.
- Follow up
Remind yourself to retouch with them in a couple of weeks. If you think it’s necessary, maybe sooner. You could start this conversation like “I’ve been thinking about that chat we had the other week and I just wanted to see how you were going” If they haven’t sought professional help, don’t judge them and try suggesting it again. Offer to go with them if you feel you are up to it. Stay in touch with them and be there for them. Often all they want is someone who will listen.
What to do about denial
Don’t criticise them, they are not ready to talk. Avoid confrontation by letting them know you will be around when they are ready to talk. Make sure they know you are coming from a place of genuine care and that all you want out of it is to make sure they are okay and to help them.
What to do if they feel suicidal
It’s important to take this seriously, don’t become angry at them for this. Explain that these thoughts can be common and they don’t have to act on them. For more advice and support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Servuce on 1300 659 467.
You’ve read the blog post about how to tell if someone you know isn’t okay and what are the warnings signs that they might need a bit of extra help. But you always need to double check, and that can be a daunting task. Approaching someone about his or her mental health is a very sensitive conversation and you might not feel you are up to it. The best thing about asking someone if they are okay, is that you don’t have to have solutions to their problems, you don’t have to be okay yourself, and you don’t have to feel like a hero. Listening is the only thing you need to helping a friend in need.
- Getting Ready
Make sure you’re in a good headspace, you can’t help your friend if your not feeling up to it yourself. You’ve got to be open and willing to genuinely listen and make sure you leave enough time for them to talk.
- Be prepared
It might be a difficult conversation. It might make them feel embarrassed or angry or resentful. Be prepared for their reaction.
- Pick a moment
Private and comfortable are the two most important things. If they cant talk when you want to, ask them for another time.
R U OK Day was launched by Gavin Larkin in 2009 from a documentary about his father suicide. Since then, it has become an international day aiming to raise awareness of mental illness, particularly depression. The idea is to ask a close friend how they are coping in order to create an open dialogue about their mental health.
Sometimes it’s a gut feeling when one of our friends is not coping very well. But there are ways to look at their behaviour and the way they talk to identify whether they need a bit of help.
Although everyone experiences these symptoms from time to time, if you think yourself or your friend struggles with them on a daily basis for more than two weeks, there is something that needs to be done. At the same time, not everyone with depression will have all these symptoms. Sometimes the happiest person can be struggling internally.
You may notice you or your friend is
- not going out as much
- not getting things done at uni or work
- acting very introverted and not reaching out to friends or family
- drinking excessively or taking drugs
- not enjoying activities that they used to
- difficulties concentrating
You may notice you feel like this, or your friend talks of these feelings:
- lacking confidence
- sad or down
- flat or lack of energy
If you notice these thoughts
- I’m a failure
- Nothing good ever happens
- I suck at everything
- Nobody likes me
- The world would be better off without me
- It’s my fault
You may notice yourself or your friend is physically affected
- tired constantly
- sick and run down
- headaches and sore muscles
- sore tummy
- troubles with breathing
- sleep problems
- change of appetite
- weight loss or gain