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Looking after yourself: Mental health support

Taking care of yourself and staying well is important for you and your family, especially during and following tough times.

October 2020 – 5 minute read

What’s in this article:

  • How to take care of yourself: Mental health and wellbeing
  • Managing your finances during crisis
  • Managing stress
  • Mental health care plan    
  • Mental health support services


 

Our mental health is always changing. During unusual and unpredictable times, feelings and emotions can fluctuate a lot, and this can affect the decisions we make. These tips and steps may help you better look after yourself to ride out the emotional rollercoaster.

How to take care of yourself: Mental health and wellbeing

It could be as simple as going for a walk, having fun with friends and family, or doing something you enjoy; great self-care is about regularly doing things that enhance our health and wellbeing.
 

Looking after yourself makes you more effective because, when you rest, eat well, connect with people and exercise, you bring more balance to your life and this can reduce worry.
 

There are many studies which show the negative effects worry and anxiety have on our mental and physical health. They also show how the new, the unpredictable, and situations which are unclear, trigger worry and anxiety for many of us.
 

New, unpredictable, unclear – they’re pretty accurate descriptions of the past year, so it’s no wonder so many of us are finding we need to take extra steps to look after ourselves.

Managing your finances during crisis

Maybe you are finding that your finances are worrying you for whatever reasons. There are some practical steps you can take to reduce the anxiety.
 

Speak with your lender and even utility providers, like gas and electricity, who may have solutions which can help you with bills and repayments.
 

Often understanding what your money is doing and having a plan to deal with any financial issues you may face can help you feel more in control.
 

For financial education and help, Westpac’s Davidson Institute has a number of online tools, including financial literacy webinars, budgeting tools and calculators aimed at increasing your money management skills.
 

You’ve probably heard it before but two solid steps to get you started are cost-cutting and budgeting.
 

  1. Our Cost-cutting checklist (PDF 216KB) can help you identify where you’re spending and where you may be able to save and ease some of the strain on your finances. Not all the items identified on the Checklist will suit your situation and some may have a bigger impact on your ‘bottom-line’ than others, but cost-cutting is a step you can take to regain control.
  2. Once you’ve had a look at the ways you might be able to reduce your costs and save, the next step is to put all the figures into a tool such as our Budget Planner (PDF 82KB). Once you see the big picture you may be able to plan more effectively.

Managing stress

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by worry and anxiety, seek help early - it may stop the situation getting worse. You might decide to talk to someone you trust to get a different view of the situation and to talk about what’s happening for you. Of course, if you’re experiencing changes in your thoughts, feelings and behaviours, see your GP or doctor. 

Mental health care plan 

A mental health care plan is put together by you and your doctor and identifies the mental health services you may need to access. It may include referrals to mental health professionals.
 

The plan sets out what you and your doctor are aiming to achieve within a particular time frame.

Sharing with parents, partners and loved  ones

Sharing how you feel and asking for help could make you feel better, feel less alone and maybe help you on your journey to improve your mental health.  While talking about these issues can be daunting and uncomfortable, you need to start. Start with someone you feel most comfortable with. This may be a health care professional, or it may be a loved one. The important thing is to start. Making a plan can help.
 

  • How will you communicate: face to face; over the phone; or in writing.
  • What do you want to say: write it down to get it clear in your mind.
  • When do you want to talk about it: find a time when everybody will have sufficient time to talk and not be distracted.
  • Consider all the ways they might react and how you will deal with it: remember this is the first conversation and your parents, partner or loved ones may need time to consider and understand your feelings. Their first reactions may not be showing how much they love and care for you.
  • Let them know how they can help: most people will want to help. Make it something you are comfortable with, which may only be not to tell other people.
  • Reach out for any other support you need.

Mental Health Support Services

If at any stage looking after yourself feels like a struggle, get help. You don’t have to tough it out alone. Here are some mental health services working online and in the community.

The Black Dog Institute provides online and clinical support for people. The organisation’s Online Clinic has been created by clinicians and is based on research. The free mental health assessment tool is suitable for anyone over the age of 18 who is worried about their mental health or wants a better understanding of their mental health. For people under the age of 18, Black Dog Institute’s Bite Back Mental Fitness Challenge is a free, self-guided online wellbeing and resilience program for younger people.
 

Beyond Blue and Headspace have resources you can explore too. For those under 18 years, Headspace has a youth focus and online tools aimed at helping younger people.
 

Lifeline can be contacted for support online, and by phone on 13 11 14


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Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.