Keep opening up, WA

11 SEP 2020

Open communication about mental health and wellbeing is of huge importance to Lifeline WA’s mission. We strive to prevent suicide, support people in crisis, and reduce the stigmas, which can be a barrier to people seeking help. A huge part of that includes encouraging others to be open about their mental health.

During COVID-19, inquiring about how others are going became more habitual. Checking in with loved ones changed and the usual question of “What have you been up to?” was replaced by deeper inquiries. For example, “How are you coping while working from home?”, “How has it been having the kids home all the time?”, “Are you doing ok and staying safe?”, ”How crazy is the world right now?”, and “How are you feeling about it all?”. Although this may be a small shift, it is an important one, and something we could benefit from as a community if we build on this. Let us keep the open conversations going!

Keep communicating - its important
Susie Biggin, Lifeline WA’s Wellbeing Coordinator, says open communication about emotional and mental health is important because it has such a great impact on your life. Your mental health impacts your thoughts, behaviours, and emotions. We are more productive and effective in things such as work, school, and even our relationships with others if we are emotionally and mentally healthy. When you communicate with others about how you are going, you are strengthening your support network and encouraging others to speak up about their own mental health.
How to ask?
It is important that we consistently check in with others to see how they are going.  By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you have noticed, you could help that family member, friend or workmate open up. R U OK has some great resources and tips on how to start this conversation that you can check out here. Susie suggest trying to make the conversation natural and letting the other person know how you are feeling about the situation. For example, "I've had a really tough day at work, but it helps talking to you. How has your day been?". “Making conversations like this an everyday thing means they are less confronting for the person who might need to open up and talk,” Susie says. This is why having conversations like these regularly with loved ones is impactful.
Checking in with yourself
We have the power to effect positive change in our own mental wellbeing by simply checking in with our own reality.  “If you do not check in with yourself regularly to ensure you are in a good emotional space, especially in a time of increased anxiety and trauma, you can run the risk of increased stress and burnouts,” Susie says. Being honest about our wellbeing can impact our resilience and ability to bounce back in times of stress, such as COVID-19, and our ability to adapt to life changes. Lifeline Australia has a great guide on how to measure your feelings. They provide examples of actions you can take to monitor and improve your wellbeing so it’s easy to understand where you are at, at any given time.
Getting them help | Getting you help
Everyone has the inherent ability to be a support to another person. If you see signs that someone you know is struggling, you can be a great support to them. Don't ever underestimate the power you have to connect with another person to help them find hope and stay safe. Encourage them to seek help wherever they feel most comfortable. This might be their GP, family, friend, religious or community leader, or anyone they feel they can trust.

Sometimes life’s problems can seem overwhelming and give us anxiety. Getting through these problems might seem impossible or daunting so recognising this and asking for help for yourself is an important and brave first step. Check out some helpful resources here about places to go to find help.

Please remember that if you are struggling and think you may need help, or you are worried about a loved one – you can always call Lifeline WA on 13 11 14. We want to keep you and your loved ones safe and we are here to help.

Written by Karen McGlynn

Image Credit: Photo by Official on Unsplash