A while back I introduced you to a mental health promotion project being led by students.
That group has been meeting regularly to identify potential topics and messages for the campaign. We are now heading into the phase where we start developing specific campaign ideas.
I thought I’d take a moment to share some content that has come out of recent meetings.
Students were asked to imagine a close friend or family member coming to them and reporting they were struggling with mental ill health.
They were then asked to list the top 10 things they might recommend to that friend or family member.
We got back a comprehensive list of ideas, suggesting students have internalised a lot of what is recommended about how to look after their mental health.
I’ve reproduced the list below. I think of this list as what students would say to other students who are struggling. I’ve supplemented it with a few links to resources and articles on the different topics.
You’ll find on it a lot of the usual suspects (e.g. social support, seek help), but also a few different ones (e.g. find your spirituality, incremental gains and play).
My hope is that perusing this list gives you some ideas for investments you could make in your own mental health.
In coming planning sessions, the student working group will go from these recommendations to proposing mental health campaign ideas that could be carried out across the Flinders campuses.
If you’d like to add suggestions to that process, you can deliver them via me (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tips for dealing with mental ill health
Invest in and utilise your social network
- Surround yourself with people who uplift you, not those who detract or create stressful situations
- Connect with people.
- Reach out to friends and family.
- Talk with people you trust
- Seek out a well known family/friend for a safe dialogue.
- Talk to family and friends without shame or thinking you are a burden or no-one will care
- Confide in a friend
- Have a home base person (persons) who is/are aware of what you are going through
- Call someone to talk
- Open up to people you feel comfortable with about what you are experiencing
- Confide in a loved one
- Develop better social skills (learn how to read and interact with people)
- Join supportive communities and clubs
- Celebrate the small things with people
- Give to others
- Golden rule – do unto others and you’d like them to do unto you
Work on your thinking
- Try reframing your problems (‘no good or bad only thinking makes it so’)
- Look at a situation a different way (try CBT for stress)
- Utilise positive thoughts/affirmations, positive self-talk
- ‘I have the power to make things better’
- Notice and tackle negative attitudes
- Question negative thoughts using reason and evidence
- Reframe mistakes
- ‘Mistakes help me grow’
- Everyone is dealing with their own battles and are likely not paying attention to my flaws
- Consider all possible sides of a situation
Look after yourself
- Practice self-compassion
- Don’t be so hard on yourself
- Accept and validate your own experience
- Practice all the different ‘selfs’
Engage in regular physical activity
- Physical exercise
- Get moving
- Light gentle exercise
- Take a reflective walk
Practice help-seeking (mental health and otherwise)
- Seek professional help where necessary
- Talk to a psychologist without feeling the problem is too small or personal
- Professional counselling (online or in person)
- Don’t be afraid to see a counsellor or psychologist
- Understand the problems you are facing from a broader perspective (zoom out to a larger viewpoint)
- Recognise the elements of your past, present and future that may be bringing about uncomfortable states
- Recognise the short term risk factors that worsen your condition (e.g. substance use, stress, toxic environments)
- Reflect on your life journey
- Develop a statement of who you are
- Count your blessings
- Note what is good in the world
- Keep a gratitude list
- Take a day off if needed
- Take time out
- Learn to say no
- Ttake a break
Develop a healthy routine
- Such as sleep, meals, leave for uni/home times
- Build a daily routine
- Build a self-care routine
- Build positive habits
Modify your environment
- Have items/objects in immediate environment that bring joy
- Clean your house
- Create a place you feel safe
- Make your home beautiful
Engage in mindfulness
- notice 3 things (e.g. funny things, things you are grateful for, 3 nice acts)
- Take up meditation
- Present moment awareness
- Practice mindfulness
- Planned meals
- Regular meal times
- Eat good food
- Read nutrient labels
- Eat well
- Reduce drugs and alcohol
- try 1 more time
- Don’t give up – it might take a few goes
- Have patience
- Keep showing up
Interact with nature
- Get sun exposure
- Be good to environment
- Get outside
Get good sleep
- Earlier bedtime
Conceptualise your ideal self
- Where would you like to be in 10 years. It may be possible if you work for it
- Set goals for the future
- Set realistic goals
Learn about mental health
- Educate yourself if you have a condition
- Build new skills
- Learn empowering knowledge
- Learn about those with lived experience
Recognise and understand feelings
- Learn to view emotion and psychological affect as temporary states that exist WITHIN us (we do not exist within them) (2)
Don’t compare self with others
Check your expectations
- Challenge unrealistic expectations – overall and in the moment
- You don’t need to do it all
- It is OK if you can’t control everything
- Spend a day playing a game you loved as a child. It isn’t wasted time.
- Do things you enjoy
Spend time with animals
Take pride in your appearance
- Buy and wear nice clothes
- Do some personal grooming
Have creative outlets
- and more…..
Note your achievements
- Celebrate the small things
- List your accomplishments
Put self first
- what do you love doing?
- What is important to you?
Engage in mental exercise
Focus on incremental gains
- try to do a little better every time
Identify your strengths
- You have so much potential.
- personal and emotional.
Use technology for mental health (e.g. apps)
- It is only you that can help yourself.
Find your spirituality
- Make it inclusive.
Monitor your media consumption
- Follow positive social media
Address academic issues
- talk to teaching staff if having troubles with academic work