According to the ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics), 4 million Australians reported to having mental health or behavioural conditions. That was roughly 17% of Australia’s population!
For those who have mental health illnesses and would like to speak to someone or seek psychological help, here is a list of available contacts:
- Headspace: (1800 650 890) Online and telephone service that supports young people aged 12 to 25.
- Kids Helpline: (1800 55 1800) Free, private, confidential, telephone and online counselling service for those aged 5 to 25.
- Mindhealthconnect: (https://www.mindhealthconnect.org.au/) Website dedicated to providing access to trusted, relevant mental health care services, online programs, and resources.
- Mindspot clinic: (https://mindspot.org.au/) An online and telephone clinic providing free assessment and treatment services for Australian adults with either anxiety or depression.
- QLife: (1800 184 527) Counselling and referral service for LGBTI individuals. Telephone and web based services to diverse people of all ages experiencing poor mental health, psychological stress, social isolation, discrimination, etc.
- Lifeline: (13 11 14) Phone and chat service for help, resources also available on site.
Those were only a few of the plethora of services useful in enabling Australians to seek help. Despite this, it is still quite difficult and requires some courage to take the step towards seeking professional help. If you need such support, here is a personal, at-home alternative that may benefit you. At the very least, this will allow you to manage your thoughts and emotions.
This alternative is journaling.
First off, what is journaling?
Well, journaling is actually whatever you want it to be; there are no rules. It all comes down to how you record life: how you experience all your emotions, uncovering and discovering parts of yourself that even you didn’t even know.
Journaling is about writing down the positive aspects of your life. Think: what am I grateful for today? What happened that made me smile today? A sample response could be, ‘I had caught up with my friend over brunch today at White Mojo. We reconnected, reminiscing of fun high school memories’. But, of course, journaling isn’t all about writing down the highlights. That is only a small fragment of your life. Life might require you to write down the challenges, the frustrations, the pain, the negativity you feel. Not everyone has happy days; that is a given. This time, think: what made you feel uncomfortable today? Did someone say something that hurt you? Did your own thoughts hurt you? If so, in which way?
Facing these negative emotions intentionally isn’t going to be easy, however, it’s going to be rather rewarding in the end. In order to deepen our awareness of not only ourselves, but also our surroundings, we have to be willing to take risks and edge ourselves to feel uncomfortable.
There is no right or wrong way to journal. There is no proper structure. The only rule is that you must be true to yourself. Journaling is all about exploring your true, raw emotions and not what you pretend or hope to feel. Your goal is to explore how you TRULY feel.
What are the benefits of journaling?
Writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use your brainpower in order to improve your understanding of yourself, others and the world around you.
A journal can help:
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Cope with depression
- Manage your overwhelming emotions.
Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by:
- Helping you prioritise problems, fears and concerns
- Tracking symptoms so that you learn of your own triggers and how to take control over them
- Providing an opportunity for positive self talk and identification of negative thoughts and behaviour
Why is a journal effective?
For those who want to seek help but have difficulty in doing so, this could be your first step. Make sure to take your time and get the help you need. Seeking help is definitely important, but what’s even more important is that you are going at your own pace. Going way past your pace will be more detrimental than beneficial.
Your journal has the potential to be your therapist and/or friend. Your little journal will allow you to open up and express your thoughts, exploring the underlying feelings you would usually believe to be difficult to articulate. This is an inexpensive, accessible, easily self-managed method which will, once again, allow you to look back at your behavioural patterns. This will further enable you to achieve your goals and effectively respond to challenges. You will be able to look at what is getting in the way of your professional and personal growth. Journaling can also show you what may be interfering with your relationships between others, thus it may assist you in managing and improving them, whilst also improving yourself.
So whip out a notebook, a journal, a blank pad of paper, anything, and start writing down those thoughts! Explore your emotions and your thoughts. Don’t fear your mind and reward yourself.