This July inspired many discussions about self-care and managing stress, and with 90% of Australians feeling they need to stress less, these conversations are more important than ever.

This year’s bushfires, the COVID-19 crisis, and worldwide protests have all contributed to stress rates and Lifelines’ crisis line has been experiencing the highest call rate in its 57 year history.

Lifelines’ crisis line has been experiencing the highest call rate in its 57 year history

Lifeline Darling Downs’ podcast series Unleash the Beast aims to have meaningful and practical discussions about mental health. In July the episode focused on stress and was hosted by Matt Gregg, facilitated by Michelle Wiersma and featured Lifeline Darling Downs CEO, Derek Tuffield OAM, and Mental Health Community Educator, Lib McNaughton.

Our speakers discuss why mental health conversations are so important and provide listeners with compassionate and practical approaches to understanding and managing stress, anxiety and mental health concerns. Our speakers draw from personal experiences to impart their knowledge and encourage listeners to use self-care to improve wellbeing and to help those who are in a dark place.

Listen to the podcast now on Whooshkaa

This insightful conversation outlines six things we all need to know about mental health and how we can all help support those doing it tough.

1. What is stress and what does it do to our bodies?

Stress is a natural response to the world around us and can’t be avoided entirely, but it can be managed. Taking preventative measures such as practicing self-care, working towards a healthy life balance and setting clear and consistent boundaries can drastically change the level of stress we experience and how we cope with it.

Stress can also change our behaviour and disrupt our normal routines.

Many people experience trouble focusing or staying organised, and can find themselves behaving erratically or withdrawing from others. Everyone experiences and expresses stress and anxiety differently, it’s important to keep an eye out for your personal warning signs.

2. When should we seek help?

Mental health services are available and can be useful at any time when you need to reach out. You don’t have to wait until you or someone you know is in a state of crisis. The Unleash the Beast podcast series hopes to empower people to have more discussions about mental wellbeing with those close to them, however, Lifelines’ crisis line (Call now on 13 11 14) is available 24/7 for people who aren’t comfortable or able to talk with people in their lives about their mental health.

3. What to say if someone approaches you and says they’re not okay

When someone we love is in distress, our first impulse is to jump in and help. However, it is essential to be in good mental health yourself before trying to help someone who is vulnerable. There is no shame in feeling you are unable to carry the weight of someone else’s struggles. In this instance, there are other avenues of support for loved ones and accessing mental health care early is a great first step. If you do feel that you can show support it is important to take care of yourself and be honest about what you can give. Active listening is one of the most helpful ways to make someone feel heard and supported, it is not always necessary to try to provide solutions or advice. If you are concerned for their safety, it is ok to ask if they are at risk of harming themselves.

4. What to do if someone tells you they want to do themselves harm

This can be one of the toughest discussions to have, especially with a loved one. Once again, self-care is essential when trying to help someone in distress.  It is very important that you stay with them and listen to what they have say. Let them express their feelings.  You then need to get help for them by organising an appointment with their GP, calling Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7) or, if their life is in danger, calling 000.

5. What helps to minimize the mental health concerns of those we care about?

Having a good sense of humour and remembering to do the things we love can go a long way in minimizing stress and strengthening our mental health. Helping others to do the things that bring them joy can be a great way to show support. The Unleash the Beast team wants to encourage natural conversations about mental health with close friends and family. The conversations we have about the dark and serious situations are just as important as the lighter mental health check-ins and often incorporate the same principles of active listening and self-care. Raising awareness and learning to be comfortable discussing mental health in our social groups, workplaces and greater community can provide more ways to share the load of stress and mental health concerns and make adequate support accessible for everyone when they need it.

6. Further ways of helping people who are feeling in a dark place:

Sometimes the support needed is above what friends and family alone can provide and reaching out to mental health professionals can be extremely helpful. With so many options it's important to connect with the right services and find the right fit for ourselves or those we are supporting.

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By seeking help it’s possible to manage and alleviate your stress levels.

Listen to the podcast now on Whooshkaa