Mental Health and Well Being

Jeaun Lewis

Basically, everyone believes that it is important to take care of their physical health.

If you cut yourself on something you do first aid and get yourself a bandage or a band aid (plaster), if you feel sick you go to the doctor, if you have a cold you stay at home and have some homemade soup and watch trashy midday TV.

Mental health, in the past 10 years or so has begun to be thought of a just as important to helping people function as physical health is, with more focus being put on helping people who live with conditions such as depression, anxiety, bi polar, borderline personality disorder, and other mental health issues.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is “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.”

They, alongside organisations such as Beyond Blue, have aimed to focus the public dialogue on the idea that it is more about promoting wellbeing and not demonising people who are living with such issues.

Due to the current state of the world, the discussion has turned inevitably to the effect that the coronavirus crisis can have on people not only currently living with mental health issues, but whether the stress caused by the outbreak and the measure that have been taken to stop the spread may have on the wider population.

In the past there has been great strain on the mental health sector and the people who work in it, much like in the other social justice issue discussed here, where they have not received the necessary financial support from the government.

This will only be increased by the coronavirus and the potential anxiety and depression that both the presence of a pandemic may cause, but also the stress of social distancing and self-isolating.

Isolation itself can cause issues for many people, with some of the effects being felt already, with physical symptoms such as aches, pains, headaches, illness of the worsening of medical conditions, and increased risk of depression anxiety paranoia or panic attacks, low energy, difficulty with sleep problems with diet, negative feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or thoughts about suicide. Ways to support good mental health, according to HealthDirect include:

  • Maintaining good relationships (while continuing to be aware of social distancing measures)
  • Exercising and maintaining a healthy diet (even though that may seem less possible at this time)
  • Keeping your mind occupied by things that interest you and practicing mindfulness
  • Helping people when it’s possible.
  • Seeking help when it Is needed.

Headspace is an organisation that aims to support those very things.

Beginning in 2006 to address the gaps left by other services, Headspace provides tailored and holistic support to young people from 12 to 25 to help them strengthen their ability to manage their mental health. Headspace run centres that people can visit, run Telehealth services, online services, work with schools, and have created The Headspace Early Psychosis Program, to support those at risk of psychosis later in life.

They also support young people with work and school commitments when they have been affected by mental health issues.

DV Connect is an organisation that helps people and their children escape from domestic violence, family violence and sexual violence and give them support as they try to put their lives back together. In DV Connect work with people to come up with safety plans for those who are in and those who suspect that someone else is in an abusive relationship for them to leave that scenario.

The core service that they provide are Womensline, Mensline, the Queensland sexual assault helpline and 1800 RESPECT. They also work to connect people to other organisations to further put space between them and their abuser. In  a time such as this, when people are pretty much stuck in their homes (apart from following the social distancing guidelines and leaving their homes), and the stress of the virus as a whole may escalate instances of domestic violence, so the support that DV Connect give people is now more important than ever.

Just like many of the other issues discussed on this site, Mental health and Wellbeing, in the words of author Timothy Morton, is a hyper-object, with many other issues enmeshed and weaving in and out of it.

Australia has dealt with two massive crisis events so far this year (the bushfires and coronavirus), and both of them have had an impact on the mental health of not only civilians, but on the frontline workers and essential services, who have been kept extremely busy with the bushfires and now coronavirus.

The mental health of doctors, police, firefighters, retail workers, support workers and other essential workers are incredibly vital to our continued way of life and must be supported better than they have been in the past.

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About the Social Impact Projects

The Griffith University Social Impact Projects address five significant social justice issues faced by vulnerable communities. Expanding on the work done by Project Safe Space, and Project Open Doors, the Griffith University Social Impact Projects bring Community Partners, students and the University together to work collaboratively in the innovative solution design sprints. Initially designed to address Mental Health and Wellbeing of Griffith students, we soon realised this was a much larger issue intersecting across a number of social justice issues for students and the wider community. The Social Impact Projects aim to contribute in some small way to improving these social issues.