Mental Health Check In

In August and September 2020 the Warrnambool Youth Council ran the Community Mental Health Check-In to find out how people were managing to Be Social, Be Playful, Be Kind, Be Yourself, and Just Be in 2020. More than 150 community members responded to the survey and the information collected has been used to create this check list of ways to look after yourself for good mental health.

Click on a tab below to find out more...

Be Social

“My phone helps me keep in touch with my friends. Social media also helps me talk to my friends. Video calls help me see my friends, classmates and teachers.”

“Texting one friend or relative a day.  Picking random contacts out of my phone that I haven’t seen for ages. It has been great and usually creates a flurry of texts back and forth.”

“(Using) Australia Post app that turns your photos into postcards. We are sending a couple of postcards a week to friends and relatives.”

While the survey shows a general reduced sense of connection in the community it also shows that sense of connection to family has remained constant. 85% of 12 -15 year olds say that they appreciate their families and how lucky they are to be with them. 90% of survey respondents agree that 2020 has taught them to value conversations with others
Being socially connected is important for our mental health. This year we’ve had to be creative in the ways we stay connected. The top three things that people found useful were telephone & video calls, socially distanced exercise, and social media.

Here are some ideas of things to try:

  1. Call a mate/phone a friend
  2. Stroll the beach or rail trail with family…
  3. Catch-up over a video call, e.g. trivia night, a dinner party, or even a bedtime story
  4. Take turns sharing a favourite movie with family or housemates - have a watch party with those who can’t be there
  5. Cook a meal together with a family member – or have video dinner date by cooking the same meal and eating it ‘together’ over video call
  6. Connect (or reconnect) with a local club or group and find out what they offer online
  7. Plan a bike ride, scoot, skate or surf with a friend or neighbour
  8. Post little gifts to friends or take a photo from your day and email it to a friend      
  9. Play video games online with your mates
  10. Online exercise classes with clubs/memberships

Be Playful

“Playing wall ball and down ball with my little brother…. Last lockdown I drew chalk on the front path which was really nice, and it also gave me a chance to chat and connect with my neighbours!”

“Workouts and running, having dances in my room with loud music and movie nights!”

“I've really enjoyed journaling about the things that are happening in my life. It helps people to express themselves in a safe and individual environment.”

Being playful, having a sense of whimsy and maintaining a positive outlook can reduce stress. While the survey showed that around 2 in 3 people have been experiencing higher than normal stress levels in 2020, respondents shared many helpful ways of managing stress.
For 97% respondents (all ages), being outdoors in nature was the most useful activity for staying playful. Music was especially important for young people (12-25 years), with 96% finding this useful in reducing stress. Keeping physically active and enjoying time with pets were also important ways for young people to minimise stress.

More specific examples of how people have remained playful include:

  1. Enjoying solitude in the outdoors and exploring the simple pleasures of nature
  2. Pick up an instrument and learn to play a new song
  3. Learn how to do an ollie or practice trick shots
  4. Do your homework in the sun
  5. Take your dog for a walk
  6. Get out into the backyard with the family, do some gardening, propagate plants
  7. Walk/run/cycle or do anything else to get your body moving
  8. Explore a new hobby: try your hand at painting, pottery, cross stitch, or collage
  9. Kick the footy or play handball with a mate
  10. Surround yourself with music, explore different artists and genres

Be Kind

“Just small things like making dinner and cleaning things for people in my household has felt good. Just trying to be nice and respectful even if you’re not feeling it make you feel better also”

“I really appreciate when friends check up on how I am. I have also enjoyed meeting people on my morning beach walk with my mum.”

“I have recently taken up meditation and this has actually been a great addition to my morning routine and really helped improve my mood. And at work I’ve been stopping more to speak and have conversations with the elderly residents during this time as their family can no longer visit them.”

Kindness to others and kindness to self is a cornerstone of wellbeing. Our community found many thoughtful ways to demonstrate kindness throughout 2020.
95% of all respondents reported checking with other people as the highest rating expression of kindness. While popular among all respondents, those who identified as He/Him and They found performing random acts of kindness (86%) helpful and 75% of 12-25 year olds found buying from local businesses and relaxation strategies helpful. Along with different ways of practicing self-care, survey respondents also showed care through contributing to the community (66%) and practicing social distancing (75%).

Here are some suggestions of ways you might like to express kindness:

  • Texting a different friend each week
  • Baking yummy things for friends and neighbours
  • Have a relaxing bath
  • Buy yourself a treat from a local shop
  • Pay for the next person’s coffee at a local café
  • Collect the shopping or do odd jobs for elderly neighbours or others who need support
  • Focus on your own wellbeing and do the things you need to do to be healthy
  • Share garden produce or just have a chat over the fence with neighbours
  • Call an older relative or friend you haven’t heard from for a while
  • Write an advocacy letter or make a donation or volunteer for a cause you care about

Be Yourself

“Solid routines, going into the cold ocean in shorts for the shock factor every day and going under at least twice.”

“I’ve reached out and asked for mental help, my confidence in my job has grown considerably, I appreciate the time I have with my friends and family more than I did before”.

“I am backing myself more. Expressing gratitude, simply enjoying what I do rather than being so serious all the time.”

“I have grown more resilient and I am now most grateful for having friends that support me”

Each of us have unique personalities, belief systems and coping styles which means we'll all experience challenges differently. That said, when we have an increase of stress in our life it’s common to experience a reduction in our ability to concentrate and a decrease in motivation. While the survey showed that just over half of all respondents reported lower mental health in 2020, 1 in 3 people felt that their resilience had increased and around 60% of people reported an increase in gratitude.
Honouring and nurturing ourselves has been an important way of dealing with the challenges of 2020.  To do this, our community members have found it helpful to practice gratitude, make healthy choices, develop resilience, and be mindful.

Here is a list of ideas you might like to try:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal - each day, write at least one thing you are grateful for
  2. Practice meditation, give yoga a try   
  3. Choose reading a book over screen time
  4. Focus on the things within your control
  5. Incorporate daily exercise and healthy eating into your routine
  6. Practice being mindful and ‘in the moment’ when eating, walking, talking to friends
  7. Take a dip in the ocean
  8. Remind yourself that facing adversity builds resilience
  9. Be curious – ask questions, look at what’s going on
  10. Find a webinar or podcast on a topic that connects you to your goals and passions

Just Be

“I have grown more appreciative of the limited time I have available within my day, and am grateful for the unwavering support of my friends”

“I’ve grown by becoming a lot more happier and confident in understanding that I won’t please everyone and that it’s okay.”

“Living in the moment - I used to be really driven by what was ahead, and hanging out for our next holiday/adventure. I still do that, but I realise they might not happen for a while, so it’s important to find joy in the every day.”

Recognising that we can grow from adversity can help us to be present and accept the challenges that life can bring. Finding ways to Be Social, Be Playful, Be Kind, and Be Yourself can all help to connect us to the present moment and Just Be. The changes we’ve all experienced in 2020 have led many people to reflect on how to stay present, willing, and accepting.
Respondents found ways to “just be” through conversations with others (88%), appreciating “the small things” (78%), and recognising the value of happiness (77%). Appreciating time spent with family rated second highest amongst all respondents (82%) and accepting that we can only control our own choices and decisions was a useful way to stay present for 2 in 3 people.

There are many different ways to Just Be, here are some suggestions:

  1. Taking regular time out to just enjoy being outside and being present
  2. Slow down
  3. Accept that you cannot control other’s actions
  4. Take things day by day
  5. Turn off devices and play a board game or do a puzzle with a sibling
  6. Check-in with yourself about your school/work – family – self - life balance
  7. Watch a whole sunset, or start your day contemplating a beautiful sunrise
  8. Practice mindful eating
  9. Connect with your creativity
  10. Take time out of your day to just stop, and breathe

 

#InThisTogether
If you need support visit your GP or your school’s Student Wellbeing or call one of the following helplines:

Local Support

Brilliant Mental Health Resources:

Local events & opportunities

Help us build understanding of the social and emotional wellbeing of the Warrnambool community by completing the Community Mental Health Check In. This online survey takes about 5 minutes to complete. Access the survey here:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MHcheckin