There are always periods of time in which life can feel overwhelming and it can feel testing just to get out of bed and face the day. With the extreme pressure from social media to have the ‘perfect life,’ people come face-to-face with the reality that so much is out of our control, and more often than not, our life will be far from perfect. The rate of reports of mental health conditions are heavily on the rise, with the amount of young Australians who suffer from a mental health condition is now recorded at one in every four people. This means for every four people you know, at least one of them will be fighting an internal battle. With suicide being the biggest killer of young Australians, it has never been more important to ask, RUOK?
Mental health has become a major issue in Australia, with the prevalence each year continually rising. Some stats from beyond blue show us just how common it is:
- 1 in 16 young Australians (aged 16-24) is currently experiencing depression
- 1 in 6 young Australians is currently experiencing anxiety
- 1 in 4 young Australians is currently experiencing a mental health issue
- 1 in 4 young Australians are unahappy with their lives.
When you think about the amount of Facebook friends or Instagram followers you have, hundreds maybe thousands, put it into perspective. A quarter of these people are not happy with their lives. This is all the more reason to check in with the people you care about most, or a new friend, and ask them RUOK?
The most important thing to know about depression is that it’s ok to not be ok and to ask for help.
If you have been a bit down lately, it important to know what depression is. Depression is the long-lasting feelings of unhappiness or sadness, going for weeks, months or even more. Depression can affect everything – your job, school, friendships and family. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are sad all the time, but if you feel irritable, sad or stressed most of the time, you may be dealing with depression. Sometimes particular events may trigger depression, the end of a relationship or the loss of a job, or sometimes it may come on for no reason at all. The most important thing to know about depression is that it’s ok to not be ok and to ask for help.
In a typical year over 2,500 people are lost to suicide, roughly equalling about 7 people per day. Suicide can have tragic rippling consequences for friends and family. Many circumstances of suicide can be prevented, even simply by starting the conversation and asking the question R U OK?
If you know someone who is struggling..
Don’t ignore any warning signs or symptoms. Changes in behaviour, mood swings or general attitudes towards life can signify mental health conditions. Talk to them – asking open questions such as “I noticed you’ve been really down lately and you haven’t been going out for weeks, I’m wondering how you are feeling?” or simply “RUOK?”. If you ask people questions, make sure you listen to what they respond with. It is important to keep in mind though at the end of the day, it is not your responsibility to fix the situation. If you believe it is out of your depth, encourage your friend to seek professional help. Most people are not trained therapists and do not always know how to deal with difficult situations. Even just by providing love and support, you will make a huge difference. It is important to find the balance between looking after your friend, and ensuring you take care of yourself. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it is ok to seek professional help for yourself.
If you are struggling…
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t keep suicidal feelings to yourself. Ask friends, family, or seek professional advice. Lifeline Australia is a phone line that can be contacted 24/7 and provides free conselling for people who are suffering from any kind of mental health disorders. Keep in mind that people do get through the really tough times. It’s not easy, and it will take a lot of time and effort, but people can come out the other side. Make sure you look after yourself with the proper care, and surround yourself with supportive people.
“Vulnerability is a state of power because you are in a state of acceptance. The best way we can overcome a dark time is by talking about it.”
There are so many things that people can do to help recover from suicidal thoughts and depression. Setting small personal goals even such as getting out of bed and leaving the house for the day will allow you to feel like you have achieved something. These can grow bigger and bigger as you feel comfortable, to travelling places you have always wanted to go, pursuing your dream job, finding a new hobby, getting a pet or studying a course. Getting some sunshine and a good dose of Vitamin D has so many benefits on our emotions. Small ten minute bursts of exercise can have a positive effect on our mood. Surround yourself with people you love, and who support you. Most importantly, make sure you go easy on yourself, particularly if some days you feel like you are going backwards. It isn’t always a straight line out. Even the smallest steps are a huge success, and you should be happy in your triumphs.
The R U OK? initiative encourages people to start having the conversation that some people may not want to face. Many celebrities such as Kristen Bell and Layne Beachly have recently spoken out on ‘de-stigmatising’ mental health conditions such as depression. Beachley recently stated “Vulnerability is a state of power because you are in a state of acceptance. The best way we can overcome a dark time is by talking about it.” It is important that we bring mental health out of the shadows, and let people know that if they are suffering, it should not be in silence. Begin the conversation and ask a friend today – RUOK?
To support this great cause, THE UPSIDE has joined forces with the nationwide initiative R U OK? creating a unisex tank that asks a little question that can make a big difference.
100% of proceeds raised through sales of THE UPSIDE Tank will be donated to R U OK? in support of the organisation’s important suicide-prevention message.
We were lucky enough to launch these tanks with out ambassadors and friends this week at stunning Bondi Icebergs Club. Thanks to everyone who came down to show their support and to spread the message!
You can find the tanks here.
For more information on RUOK? visit their website
If you want to pick up a phone to chat, there is always someone to talk to at LifeLine: 13 11 14