Thursday, August 11, 2011

Can you help? #ruralmh #mentalhealth

Last night on Twitter, a community of people interested in Mental Health, were discussing issues relating to farmers and others in rural areas.  There were some very interesting discussions pertaining to what issues rural people have to deal with and how this can affect their mental health.  It then evolved to a discussion on how we can all help each other and what the signs might be that indicate someone is not coping. 

I don’t profess to be an authority on mental health but I do know what happened to me and I have seen others in similar situations.  From what I have seen, people respond differently to pressure and react differently when it all gets too much. I know that seems obvious but I wanted to put it out there because we do tend to put people in categories.

Some of the revelations that came out of last nights discussion are that rural people are affected by many things including money worries, natural disasters, media barrage, workload and isolation.  We find it difficult to take time out for family and social activities.  When the pressure is on, we often work harder instead of taking a much needed break.

How can we tell if someone we know is not coping?  It’s different for everyone.  There’s no hard and fast rule, but one thing that people were saying was to keep the communication line open.  Listen to what your mates are telling you and see if there is something you can do to help.  Some people just stop talking altogether and go into a kind of automation mode.  Think about whether there is someone who has fallen off the radar an been out of touch with everyone for a while.  Is there someone you know who is difficult to be around because they are cranky the whole time? Does someone you know seem to be drinking more than usual?

So what do we do if we think someone’s having trouble?  Well the tweets last night were saying talk to them.  Ask if they’re ok?  Sometimes just that person to bounce ideas off is enough. I’d like to put my own two cents in here and say  - see if you can get them out for a social endeavour.  Leaving the house can have therapeutic benefits.  Especially if someone’s spiralling downwards.  Interrupting that negative flow can really help.

And what if it’s you that’s not coping.  Again, talk.  If you find that difficult, my own advice is to write.  Get down on paper (or computer screen) what’s really bothering you.  I found this extremely helpful. I also knew that I was on the road to recovery when I could read certain sections of my book without crying.  You don’t have to write a book though.  Start with a letter, or just a few notes.  Have a look at what other people have written.  Sometimes it helps just to know that you’re not the only one going through this.  There are many people’s stories on the Beyond Blue website.

But if talking sounds easier and you don’t know who to call, there are heaps of help lines ready to be the listener.

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Lifeline 12 11 14

Mensline Australia 1300 789 978

Suicide callback service 1800 659 467

Parentline 1300 30 1300

It’s because of people like you that I managed to get through my own depression. I didn’t even know there was a problem until someone pointed it out.  I was really happy with my life.  I would just burst into tears without warning and for no apparent reason.  It didn’t occur to me that I might be unwell.

So if there is someone that you know (could be an almost stranger) who you think might be unwell and you’re wondering if you can help.  I say the answer is yes, you can.  See if you can start a conversation.  Or maybe email them this post, or a link.

Thank you

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