Aussies urged to make time for mental health


Exclusive: A government-sponsored social media campaign will urge Australians to "Make Time" this summer to tend to their mental wellbeing after being battered by bushfires, drought and the pandemic.

Australians are being asked to share photos, videos and messages about how to overcome mental distress on a new website launched today (Wednesday) aimed at promoting resilience.

Or, people can post anywhere on social media using #MakingTime, and their stories will automatically be incorporated into the conversation.

The discussion on the website will be about sharing helpful advice and strategies with others to help them cope, even during their toughest days.

The nation's peak mental health body the National Mental Health Commission said the prevalence of mental illness and psychological distress soared during 2020.

As Australians struggled with the fallout, more than 10 million Medicare mental health services were delivered and demand for help from mental health helpline services soared.

More than 4377 people a day are contacting the Government's Head to Health website, up 374 per cent on last year and the number of contacts with helplines (Lifeline, Kids Helpline and Beyond Blue) together has increased by 25 per cent and the number of people with eating disorders increased.

"In a year where we have all been challenged in different ways, those living with mental ill health or impacted by trauma cannot only help others in a similar situation understand how to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing but can help them appreciate the need to make time for the things that help us respond to daily challenges," Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan said.


National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan says make time for yourself this summer AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan says make time for yourself this summer AAP Image/Mick Tsikas


"You need to make time to check in on yourself each day, make the time to do those things, which will help alleviate some of the impacts, make time to look after yourself."

This could include stopping for 5-10 minutes to look out the window, taking a coffee break while Christmas shopping, walking the dog or doing some form of exercise.

"It's the concept of stop and make time because you're worth it," she said.

The launch of the website comes as new research revealed that almost three in four (73 per cent) parents were feeling more stressed and anxious as a result of today's uncertainties.

The Real Concerns of Parents report 2020, commissioned by Real Insurance, found almost half of the parents surveyed were very concerned about covering day to day expenses (47.1 per cent), while nearly 60 per cent had strong worries about covering unexpected costs (57.9 per cent).

Family psychologist, Clare Rowe, said a feeling of lack of control resulting from the bushfires and the pandemic was behind the anxiety.

"Humans thrive on consistency and predictability. The presence of a global pandemic with significant changes and upheaval to workplaces, education and family life have disrupted our sense of repetitiveness and ability to have trust in what the future holds," she said.

"This understandably activates a primal part of our brain that puts us in a "flight or fight" response as we try to keep our families head above water."

New research from the University of East Anglia, in England, has found having hope for the future could protect people from risky behaviours such as drinking and gambling.

The researchers induced feelings of relative deprivation in 55 volunteers, by telling them how deprived they were compared to their peers and found that the volunteers who scored high for hope, were much less likely to take risks gambling.

Originally published as Aussies urged to make time for mental health