Blog - 09 September 2021
The children are all set up for another day of remote learning and it’s nearly time for you to log on for work. Life has changed for most families. Looking after your own wellbeing during a pandemic and helping your family manage with the changes is one big commitment. So, how do you ensure that you have the mental capacity to keep up with everything before you consider looking out for others? We acknowledge that wellbeing is not just about being in a happy state, but rather a way of life that affects people in different ways. We talked to David Westgate, Mental Health Trainer for the Black Dog Institute for his advice.
If you’re worried about starting a conversation about mental health, don’t be. David points out that often people worry what could trigger others. But if you approach someone whom you’re genuinely worried about, and explain to them that you’ve noticed for example, a change in their mood, they will know that your heart is in the right place. Sometimes people just need a listening ear and when prompted, you give them the opportunity to voice how they are feeling. And this is a good thing. Talking about our feelings is a good thing.
Supporting someone through mental health challenges is a big responsibility. “But it’s not our duty to fix them”, states David. Ways to demonstrate support include listening and encouraging those we’re concerned about to talk. It’s also important to encourage them to seek professional help, such as through organisations like the Black Dog Institute. David’s practical advice extends as far as to say that “you don’t need to make their problem your problem.” Checking in on them occasionally demonstrates to them that they are not alone. David stresses the importance of being aware of your own wellbeing so other peoples’ problems don’t start to impact your own wellbeing from a mental health perspective.
The Black Dog Institute website provides a plethora of resources when it comes to wellbeing. The website defines what contributes to our wellbeing, including positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. Working on these contributing factors will bring you closer to living the life you want to live.
Feelings change. They can change from week to week, day to day, or even from hour to hour. Especially during lockdown! Understanding how you’re feeling gives you control of the situation. Being aware of your emotions allows you to work through them and find ways to deal with thoughts and feelings that are not welcome. A practical tool developed by the Black Dog Institute, myCompass, is a personalised self-help tool that anyone can use to monitor their mental health. The tool is known to improve mood levels and the level of anxiety and stress often experienced.
Today is R U OK?Day and it’s important to reach out to your family, friends and colleagues to check in with them and offer your support should you feel a change to their usual mood or behaviour. Starting off a conversation is often the hardest, but in reality, there is nothing to lose and much to gain by opening up dialogue with someone who needs a listening ear. But remember, it’s important to look out for your own wellbeing too. For more articles on wellbeing, visit our blog.
David Westgate has worked in advertising for 35 years. All while suffering from a rollercoaster-like mental illness known as bipolar 1. So, he knows what it’s like to be driven by anxieties so strong he’s sacrificed countless weekends to needless work; to be so sleep deprived, his keyboard sometimes resembles a soft downy pillow, and to perform brilliantly in a boardroom one moment, only to find himself crying quietly in a toilet cubicle the next. David is a keynote speaker for the Black Dog Institute and a qualified instructor for Mental Health First Aid.