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How to seek help in difficult times 

Written by Laura Gomez

COVID 19 has shone a new light on mental health, encouraging us all to think more creatively and adapt to access support differently. Yet for some people, stigma and shame can still be powerful barriers which block the path to seeking early help.

Most of us will struggle at some point with an aspect of our mental health. Trying to balance the pressures of work, family, relationships, finances and adapting to change has become the new normal of modern life. For many of us, the struggle to juggle everything is not just very real – it is exhausting.  

Many people may delay accessing mental health support, but it’s important to remember that we don’t have to be really unwell to reach out. Seeking help when life becomes harder is no different to seeing a GP when we’re sick or finding an expert on anything we’re having difficulty with.

Prioritising prevention, early intervention and self-care strategies are also important for maintaining good mental health. While fancy massages and holidays are nice, often the best self-care comes from small changes to how we live our everyday lives.

Adapting daily tasks and routines to include mindfulness, meditation, yoga, exercise, breathing techniques or moments of gratitude can do more than just help us to relax and feel good. These actions can be life changing. They encourage us to proactively meet needs that benefit our mental health rather than waiting for problems to arise, escalate and compound.

Effective self-care is not a one-size-fits-all system and it may change as our needs and lives do over time. Self-care can allow us time and space to attend to needs that may have not otherwise been met. They can help us to foster more balance and even promote personal growth.

As needs for self-care are different from person to person, it might include a mix of things. While we don’t often think to seek support for incorporating self-care into our lives, it can really improve our overall health and there are a lot of options out there.

Early signs that your mental health or that of someone close to you may benefit from support may be subtle and are not always obvious. However physical and behavioural changes can often be good indicators that something needs attention. Some common changes to look out for can include feeling tired, sick or run down, experiencing headaches, rashes, changes in weight or disrupted sleep patterns. Other signs may include behaviours such as paying less attention to physical appearance, a loss of confidence or withdrawal, an increase in mistakes, anger, impatience, forgetfulness and indecisiveness. 

If you or someone you know are struggling or feel like things could just be better, don’t put things off. Talk to someone you trust and seek support. Break down the job of finding help into small steps so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. See a GP first, then research support options and book an appointment. If you see a psychologist, counsellor or social worker and you don’t click, don’t give up. Try someone else. Finding the right fit is important and the right help is out there.

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