Mental health: Support available 24/7 through festive season

WHILE the festive season is often a happy and joyful time, it can also be very challenging for some.

Aurora Bermudez, South West Hospital and Health Service Mental Health Service Director said the holiday period like Christmas and New Year, when people are spending a lot of time together, can generate pressures and stress.

"This year, people also have been under unequalled stress due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic," Ms Bermudez said.

"In addition, some areas within the South West are still struggling with ongoing drought as well as other economic issues.

"Experiencing strong emotions at such pressure-cooker times is perfectly normal and most of us will have those sorts of feeling to a greater or lesser degree.

"So, it's important to be aware of your own emotions and the emotions of those you are interacting with over the holiday period.

"Be kind to yourself and to others and just remember to give and take.

"Something as simple as a phone call to a relative or friend to let them know you are there for them, if you feel they are struggling emotionally, can mean a world of difference to that person.''

Ms Bermudez said it was important for people to recognise the early signs of stress, both in themselves and in others, so they could act on them and prevent future anxiety.

These signs include:

  • Difficulty concentrating or finding easy tasks difficult
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Difficulty controlling negative thoughts
  • Loss of appetite or uncontrolled eating
  • Out-of-character irritability, short-temperedness or aggression
  • Consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behaviour
  • Thoughts that life is not worth living (seek help immediately if this is the case).

"Knowing how stress impacts on our lives can help us prepare, prevent and cope with busy, stressful times or even that tense family dinner,'' Ms Bermudez said.

"Try reducing your stress by staying active and eating healthy foods over the break.

"Make sure you're eating plenty of nutritious fruit and vegetables and get regular exercise."

"There's also little things you can do like setting up a 'to-do' list to help you feel organised during the busy season.

Ms Bermudez said the South West HHS would have mental health clinicians available over the festive period to deal with any concerns and contact could be made through your local health facility.

Professional mental health support is available 24/7 by phoning 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 2255).

Any member of the community seeking a public mental health service anywhere in Queensland can dial this statewide number.

"By contacting the 24-hour mental health call line, you will be put in contact immediately with an appropriate mental health service for advice and support,'' Ms Bermudez said.

"The 1300 MH CALL number helps us deliver the right care and support at the appropriate time which is important for people experiencing mental health stress.''

However, Ms Bermudez stressed the 1300 MH CALL number was not a replacement for

emergency services or support services.

"Mental health consumers and the wider community requiring emergency assistance should continue to use the 000 number in times of emergency,'' she said.

Ms Bermudez said the South West HHS also was encouraging people to take time for mental health by following six simple actions, as recommended by the Queensland Government's Dear Mind initiative and based on the internationally recognised Wheel of Wellbeing.

These six actions are:

  • Take time to get healthy - being active and eating well is good for your mind as well as your body
  • Take time to keep learning - learning new things can make you more confident as well as being fun
  • Take time to show kindness - practising small acts of kindness, volunteering time, or simply helping a friend in need can help you feel more satisfied with life
  • Take time to connect - spending time with other people is important to everyone's mental wellbeing
  • Take time to take notice - paying more attention to the present and the world around you helps relieve stress and enjoy the moment
  • Take time to embrace nature - connecting with the outdoors and taking care of the planet is the best recipe for world wellbeing.

Some useful links and contacts:

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