Health & Wellness

Putting the ‘Me’ into Mental Health

September 4, 2018
Putting the Me back into Mental Health

It is Women’s Health Week 3 – 7 September and the focus is making our health our number one priority.  Most of us think about our general health and fitness.  We keep up with mammograms, cervical screening and general health BUT are we really looking after our mental health?

As part of Women’s Health Week promoted by Jean Hailles  the focus for Wednesday is Mental Health and we are reminded:

your timely reminder to invest in your own mental wellbeing and put yourself first. Learn how to protect your mental health, how to be kinder and gentler on yourself and make positive changes that last.

Putting the Me back into Mental Health

Mental health still appears to have a stigma attached to it, and we feel inadequate if we need to ask for help.  We also probably relate mental health to various conditions such as depression. However, I was reading more about mental health on the Beyond Blue website and discovered that many of us actually misunderstand the meaning.

‘Mental health’ is often used as a substitute for mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety conditions, schizophrenia, and others.

According to the World Health Organization, however, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

So rather than being about ‘what’s the problem?’ it’s really about ‘what’s going well?’

I have written often about Mental health and well-being so today I have put together some of my previous articles which will help to get you started on really taking care of yourself.

Remember, we all get the ‘blues’ occasionally or life gets tough, that is perfectly normal.

BUT THE IMPORTANT MESSAGE is to reach out and get professional help if you can’t overcome these feelings.

If you feel someone is struggling, why not ask them: RU Okay?

What can you do to improve your Mental Health today?

How do you maintain your mental health and wellbeing?

Putting the Me back into Mental Health

 

It isn’t too late to sign up for Women’s Health Week – will you make your health your #1 priority?

Let’s Keep Sizzling!

Resources for more information or if you need help:

Beyond Blue

RU Okay

Lifeline Australia

 

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71 Comments

  • Reply The Widow Badass September 4, 2018 at 20:49

    This post is very much needed, Sue. Still such a stigma on mental health although people joke about taking a “mental health day” – at least they do in my part of the world. It definitely takes more than a day to look after your mental health, especially if going through a tough time. If only schools taught “mental education” along with “physical education”…I would love to see meditation and other self-help techniques taught along with an awareness of when to seek professional help. We’re not there yet, at least not in public education in North America.

    Deb

    • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 5, 2018 at 00:22

      Deb – many schools are introducing Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness in the U.S. as alternative methods of discipline. By introducing these practices on a daily basis, they’ve seen fights, detention, absenteeism, suspensions decrease and academic performance increase! Hopefully, the practice will spread!

      • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 07:00

        Yes I’ve read about that Janet and think it is a wonderful idea. The children learn that meditation and mindfulness is a natural and important part of life. x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 07:08

      Hi Deb, I’ve struggled over the years and also my husband has PTSD so I know first hand what anxiety and depression can do to a person. As Janet mentioned in her comment to you, there are schools introducing meditation and mindfulness now which has shown good results. It is all a matter of society accepting and being open to those who need help. Asking people if they are okay? Listening and not judging. Have a beautiful week, Deb xx

  • Reply Miriam September 4, 2018 at 21:41

    Such an important topic Sue and you always write about these subjects so sensitively. It’s so good that issues of mental health are out there and acknowledged, rather than being swept under the carpet. Great post.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 07:06

      Thank you Miriam, I try to be sensitive as I’ve struggled over the years and also my husband suffers from PTSD (Vietnam Vet). We do need to make society aware that it is important to talk about mental health and not attach a stigma. xx

  • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 5, 2018 at 00:28

    Sue – thanks for another great post and for highlighting issues of mental health. As one who has struggled with varying levels of depression off and on, I have come to realize how important consistent personal mental health care as part of overall self-care is. We tend to be a ‘treat the symptom’ society (at least in the U.S.) more than a ‘get at the root cause’ — but I prefer to get to the heart of the matter rather than just using band-aids (or pills). This is not to say sometimes bandages and pills and therapy aren’t needed – but I find a holistic, comprehensive approach to be most beneficial for me. Thanks for a thought-provoking post!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 06:59

      Hi Janet, yes I have struggled like you and also my husband has PTSD which is a constant struggle for him. I agree we need to find the root of the cause rather than bandaid solutions, however, with the stigma attached to mental health it is difficult to get people talking. I also feel that sometimes we open a pandora’s box when we start to discuss the real issues, as has been my husband’s experience. For me, mental health and well-being is paramount and we need to keep the focus of society on this area of health. xx

      • Reply Jennifer September 6, 2018 at 09:33

        Janet, one of my friends is an adolescent psychologist and he feels that everyone should visit a psychologist at least once a year. Like a physical, a mental health check-up should be a yearly thing.

        • Reply Janet Mary Cobb September 6, 2018 at 12:32

          That is a great idea Jennifer!

        • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:56

          That is an excellent idea, Jennifer and it would also help to remove the ‘stigma’ of ‘seeing a professional’. We all need someone to talk to and sometimes those closest to us aren’t the right people. My husband has PTSD and regularly sees a psychologist to help him. Recently, I was struggling and got a referral from the doctor but I haven’t acted upon it. I must make that appointment after reading your comment. Have a beautiful day. xx

          • Jennifer September 11, 2018 at 03:16

            I’m glad you’re going to make that appointment. My husband regularly sees a psychologist and sometimes I join him for appointments. So helpful with the stress of being my mother’s primary caregiver.

          • Sue Loncaric September 11, 2018 at 07:22

            Yes even though I feel ‘better’ Jennifer it doesn’t help to talk to someone who is impartial and can give a different perspective. 🙂

        • Reply azure September 14, 2018 at 12:25

          Who will pay for that visit?

          • Janet Mary Cobb September 14, 2018 at 20:29

            Shouldn’t it be covered by health insurance – parody of physical and mental health services?

  • Reply Donna September 5, 2018 at 08:04

    Hi, Sue – I join the other commenters in thanking you for always having such top quality posts with such important reminders. I love Janet’s comment on how some schools are now focusing on ‘mindfulness’ as an alternative method to ‘discipline’.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 08:18

      Thanks Donna for the words of encouragement. I also read about studies in the UK with teaching children in school Mindfulness and Meditation which had positive results. Have a beautiful day xx

  • Reply Natalie September 5, 2018 at 09:47

    Hi Sue – Thank you for this important reminder. Mental health is part of our overall well-being and we need to take care of it just like we would with our physical health.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:18

      Hi Natalie, my husband has PTSD do I know first hand the importance of mental health and talking about it rather than hiding away. If we are mentally well then it is easier to take on the physical workouts I believe. Have a lovely week and thanks for stopping by to comment. xx

  • Reply Min@WriteoftheMiddle September 5, 2018 at 10:16

    I really love the WHO definition of what ‘Mental Health’ is Sue. Sadly, I agree that a stigma is still attached to the words ‘mental health’ and most people instantly think of depression, anxiety, and conditions such as bi-polar, schizophrenia etc rather than it having a much broader meaning covering a general ability to cope with all the demands and ups and downs of life and our sense of well being. Such an important topic. Thanks Sue! xo

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:20

      Hi Min, I’ve struggled over the years, nothing major but still anxiety and of course my husband as PTSD so we both understand the importance of good mental health and talking about it openly. I don’t think we can highlight the topic enough, Min. Have a beautiful week. 🙂

      • Reply Min@WriteoftheMiddle September 6, 2018 at 11:20

        I’ve had my struggles over the years too Sue, and even today. I’m a constant work in progress. I agree that the topic can not be discussed enough. The stigma needs to go! Hope you’re having a wonderful week! xo #TeamLovinLife

        • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 07:05

          Hi Min, we are so similar and talking about it helps keep the topic front and centre. I think the stigma is slowly going but not fast enough for people to feel comfortable admitting they are struggling. xx

  • Reply Leah September 5, 2018 at 10:41

    Married for 26 years to a Marriage and Family Therapist. Part of a family where anxiety disorder is prevalent. Mental health is something we need to talk more openly about and, in the U.S. at least, we need much better coverage.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:22

      Hi Leah, I tried to access your website but it gave me an error so will try again. I totally agree that we should treat Mental health just as we would discuss cancer or any other topic. We aren’t doing a bad job in Australia but so many suicides and yet the message isn’t getting through. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely week. x

  • Reply Christine Field September 5, 2018 at 10:53

    Thank you for this. As the mother of a mentally ill daughter, I am constantly aware of the state of my own mental health. If I am not tending to mine, then I am of no good or encouragement to anyone else.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:23

      Hi Christine, that is a good point you raise that you need to tend to your own mental health in order to be able to care for your daughter. It is the ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’ message isn’t it? Have a lovely day and thank you for stopping by x

    • Reply Lydia C. Lee September 6, 2018 at 09:12

      Yes, you can’t pour from an empty cup!!

  • Reply Trisha Faye September 5, 2018 at 11:19

    Another great post! Our mental health (or lack of sometimes) affects our physical health so much! Wonderful, wise words here.
    Sharing on SM for MLSTL

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:29

      Thanks Trisha and yes our mental health can determine our physical health – I truly believe that. Have a beautiful day and thanks for sharing x

  • Reply Joanne Tracey September 5, 2018 at 11:23

    An important reminder and, as always, sensitively managed. The more we’re aware of this, the better able we are to cope with the ups and downs as they occur – and appreciate it as being part of the overall texture of life…even if that can sometimes only be recognised in hindsight.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:30

      Thank you Jo, as my husband has PTSD this topic is very close to my heart. We do need to talk openly about how we feel and not think that others will judge us. I don’t think we can highlight this topic enough. xx

  • Reply Jan Wild September 5, 2018 at 11:30

    That definition is gold isn’t it. Mental health is so poorly understood and there is a good reason sick leave can be seen as a mental health day. Some days I just feel like curling up under the blankets and some days that is all I can do. I have learnt to do just that if that is what I need. Somehow the world goes on around me.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:32

      Hi Jan, your comment went into SPAM 🙁 I found you though 🙂 I feel like you sometimes and then I withdraw for a time, lick my wounds and then come back. We need to find ways to cope when we just don’t feel like being ‘on’ with others and know that it is okay. x

  • Reply 1010ParkPlace September 5, 2018 at 11:33

    I write a lot about women surviving different facets of life. Sometimes that includes dealing with mental health issues like depression. I hope we can begin to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and if I had to guess, it’s probably more common among any given population group than something like diabetes. It’s only been in the last seven years… after the unexpected death of my husband on Christmas Day, that I became deeply depressed. I don’t take meds but listen to guided imagery… I think you left me a comment on my blog where I interviewed guided imagery pioneer, Belleruth Naparstek. It’s helped me immensely. Brenda #MLSTL

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:34

      You are so right Brenda, there is nothing to be ashamed of and we need to remove the stigma and that is happening but too slowly. Mental health is the same as any other health issue and should be discussed that way. I’m so sorry for your sudden loss and I’m pleased that you were able to come back out of your depression (which is completely understandable). Now you are helping other women which is wonderful. x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones September 5, 2018 at 11:44

    Great reminders here Sue. Especially for me. I tend to focus on my physical health and do ignore my mental health most of the time. Happy to Share on SM as this post is very important

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:36

      Hi Jen, I think that physical health is given so much more advertising and promotion that we forget about our mental health. I believe that if we aren’t well mentally then it affects our physical health. They really go hand in hand. Thanks for sharing and leaving me a comment. have a great week! xx

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au September 5, 2018 at 11:50

    No matter how many times we say it, there is still a lot of stigma attached to mental health issues. Chronic depression is rampant through our society and yet it is rarely discussed (other than the occasional celebrity saying they’re dealing with it). The bone sapping tiredness and flatness that goes with depression is something that needs to be supported and acknowledged – and treatment should be sort rather than avoided. It’s still such a difficult subject isn’t it Sue? #MSLTL and shared everywhere!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:38

      Yes I’ve experienced that Leanne and I don’t know where I would be sometimes without my running and exercise. I sometimes think celebrities don’t help because they throw the word ‘depression’ around and it loses its value and message. I think we are getting better but the stigma is still definitely there to some extent. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply Jan Wild September 5, 2018 at 16:13

    Something weird is going on with you and me. I commented this morning and when I went back to edit my comment it disappeared!
    Anyways, a really important topic Sue, mental health is so poorly understood and is something that affects us all from time to time (either ourselves or our loved ones). It is so important to take time for oneself in those moments. When I feel crappy I know I want to just hide under the blankets and sometimes I do. I know I will feel a lot better if I take the time out to be in the space and then pop up fresh after taking that ME time. Pinned.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 5, 2018 at 16:40

      Hi Jan, I did find your original comment but will take a second one! Yes, this year my husband has been struggling with his PTSD and fortunately things are on the upswing now. It is so hard because people do not understand what mental health really is and they don’t want to talk about it or listen if you try to talk about it. Thanks for pinning and I agree we can’t highlight this topic enough. Have a fabulous week and enjoy Brisbane x

  • Reply Debbie September 5, 2018 at 17:18

    This is a great reminder Sue! I have enjoyed a lovely day with my daughter (due date for baby tomorrow), we’ve been to the movies, lunch and had a pedicaure together. It was nice to do some girl stuff together before the baby comes. Sharing this for #mlstl

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:40

      Hi Deb, you have had a tough couple of years but also some wonderful experiences with your 3 month Odyssey. However, your best experience is due any day – that of being a grandmother. I took my daughter for a mani/pedi days before Elliot was born and it was a lovely way to spend some time together. I can’t wait to hear of your new arrival. Love and best wishes to your daughter and family xx

  • Reply Molly Stevens September 5, 2018 at 19:45

    As we head toward autumn, I have a little feeling of dread, because last winter I had ‘the blues’ for the first time. I blamed it on being semi-retired and having more time to think. I am on the alert this year if it happens again and will seek help. Mental health is so important! #MLSTL

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:42

      Hi Molly, that is so understandable and I know I did not cope well when I retired. I love your autumn and winter but that is a novelty for me as Brisbane is usually mild and sunny or hot and sunny. There is a condition called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) so it is quite common to have the ‘blues’ on the short, dark days of Winter. At least you are aware and my advice is to give yourself some time to adjust to retirement – it isn’t as easy as it sounds! Have a beautiful day and it is lovely to have you visit and comment. xx

  • Reply Candi Randolph September 5, 2018 at 20:43

    Thanks Sue, for reminding us (again!) to think enough of ourselves to foster a healthy outlook and emotional temperature. While most of the time seeking the assistance of a professional is not needed, for the times that it is, it can be life changing. I love the approach you mentioned that we focus on what’s going well rather than to focus on the problems! xo

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:45

      Hi Candi, I don’t think we can discuss Mental Health enough really. I agree we don’t always need professional health but we need to also know it is okay to talk to someone if we really need to. Have a beautiful weekend and take some time to enjoy yourself xx

  • Reply Heather Erickson September 5, 2018 at 20:57

    I recently got a therapist after one of my children was hospitalized for suicide. She struggled for several years with mental health issues. I didn’t think I had the time of energy to add my own therapy appointments to my schedule since I was taking her to so many and caring for my husband who has terminal cancer on top of that. The truth is that I was going to have a breakdown of my own sooner or later if I didn’t start to care for myself. It has made a big difference in my ability to cope. And I only see her every couple of weeks. It’s helpful to have a sounding board.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:47

      Hi Heather, good for you to acknowledge that you needed to talk to someone. Life is difficult for you and sometimes no matter how strong we are we just need that safety net of confiding in a professional. I’m so pleased you took the step and my best wishes go to you and your family. A sounding board is an excellent idea and as you say it is only every couple of weeks but you deserve that time.

  • Reply Christie Hawkes September 5, 2018 at 23:42

    Thanks for the important reminder, Sue, and for starting this conversation. Judging by the comments, this discussion is much needed. If you look at mental health using the broader definition, it applies to all of u;, and in addition, I’m willing to bet that every person has been touched by mental illness of some sort in ourselves or those close to us. In my little circle, I have loved ones who suffer with depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. You asked how we maintain mental health. Some of my practices include meditation, massage, maintaining close relationships, and spending time in nature. May you be well. XO #MLSTL

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:49

      It is such an important topic, Christie. I’ve struggled at times in my life and also my husband suffers PTSD (Vietnam Vet) so like you, I know first hand what mental illness can do to a person. I think your point of maintaining close relationships is very important as well as the calming affect of being in nature. We all need to feel we can express ourselves and ask for help without judgement. Have a beautiful day and thanks for being part of #MLSTL. xx

  • Reply Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit September 6, 2018 at 08:00

    I have had “make doctors appointment” on my to-do list for a month. I haven’t done it. I’m going online to book that RIGHT NOW! Thanks for the reminder

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:53

      That’s great, Leanne we all need a little prompting at times. xx

  • Reply jodie filogomo September 6, 2018 at 08:17

    It’s so important to put more focus on this Sue. It’s not like people choose this path, so we need to make sure we can help out when needed!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:54

      Exactly, Jodie. I think people still fear being judged so don’t want to open up but it is such an important topic. We all need to ask someone ‘R U okay?’ if we think they are struggling to open the conversation. xx

  • Reply Vanessa September 6, 2018 at 11:10

    Yesterday I had to be off work for something, so I fitted in a check up at the doctors and a catch up with a friend. It’s good to be able to fit these things in and very healthy to catch up with people.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 07:04

      I agree, Vanessa, connection with others is so important. I run twice a week with my ‘Saturday Sisters’ and apart from keeping healthy, we use this time to ‘open up’ and discuss issues we are dealing with. Great therapy! Have a lovely weekend and enjoy xx

  • Reply Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski September 6, 2018 at 14:09

    I try not to sweat the small stuff. It really helps keep my sanity. If you have something to work toward, like a goal or purpose it makes it easier to work through challenges.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 07:07

      I try to Rebecca, but sometimes my mind just starts worrying about little things. If I’m working towards something, I use ‘baby steps’ to accomplish it. That way I don’t get overwhelmed and give up. Have a beautiful day and thanks for visiting. xx

  • Reply Denyse Whelan September 6, 2018 at 19:15

    A great reminder to us all thank you Sue. I appreciate you sharing your husband’s PTSD. Gosh, how anyone “can” survive being in any conflict with others, especially war, unscathed mentally is beyond me. At least it is recognised now but there has been so much shame particularly for the Vietnam vets and how shabbily they were treated when they returned to Australia. My younger brother was called up but missed out (phew) because Gough Whitlam (I think, gosh I hope my memory is OK) brought the troops home. It must be so hard for him and you too of course.
    My mental health has had quite a bruising thanks to cancer but some skills I learned along the way to that diagnosis when I was in my sadness and grief stage of the major life shift saw me able to ensure I took (and still do) time for being outside, creating art, connecting with others and more.
    I hope more people are less afraid to speak up and ask for help or at least do something if they can for themselves like seeing their GP.
    Denyse x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 07:13

      Hi Denyse, yes my husband was called up for National Service and was actually one of the last to leave. I think the way they were treated when they returned was just as damaging to them mentally as being in a war zone. I was only in high school at the time, but I remember the protests. It is different now thank goodness but still hard for people to admit they struggle. This is a topic I’m passionate about so will regularly highlight on my blog. You have shown great mental strength during your treatment and battle. My Mum had a list of songs she would sing to herself during the many rounds of chemo and radiation therapy. That was 40 years ago now but she inspired me so much. Have a beautiful weekend and thanks for sharing your thoughts xx

  • Reply Pat September 7, 2018 at 01:04

    Sue, when I was dealing with cancer treatments, my oncologist said “it’s perfectly OK to visit funk land, just let me know if you’re thinking about taking up permanent residence there”. Yes, she was acknowledging that mental health was something I would need to be even more aware of during that time. We would talk about it every visit. Not in a bad way, but in the coping with stress way.

    For me mental health is both the aspect of depression and dealing with life stress as well as many other things. In our family we have individuals who deal with bi-polar, autism, addiction, and cognitive impairment (from stroke). And many times it’s hard to live with that, especially if the one with the mental health challenge refuses to acknowledge they need support or professional help.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 06:35

      Hi Pat, I’m sure your mental health was tested during your cancer treatments, Pat. I always remember my Mum who lost her battle with Cancer 32 years ago. She was such a strong and beautiful woman who never complained. She would have a list of songs that she would sing to herself during her many rounds of chemo and radiation. My husband has battled PTSD as a result of being a Vietnam Veteran. He does seek help and really kept so much inside and just ‘battled’ on in life that many people never knew. He is much more open with me and I think it is so important to realise you aren’t alone, you will have bad days and there is always someone there to listen and help. Have a beautiful day, my friend and take care. xx

  • Reply Sydney Shop Girl September 7, 2018 at 08:20

    Thanks for beginning this very important discussion on your blog, Sue.

    SSG xxx

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2018 at 08:28

      Thanks SSG, it is such an important topic and one we need to focus on. Have a beautiful weekend xx

  • Reply Deborah September 9, 2018 at 21:17

    I remember going to something forever ago that talked about mental wellness and this was back in the 1990s and it was kinda new then. Now we talk about ‘wellness’ more and I think that’s a good thing. We recognise it’s a spectrum. #teamlovinlife

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 11, 2018 at 07:39

      Hi Deb, yes we do need to talk about it more and make people feel comfortable expressing their feelings rather than feeling judged or intimidated. x

  • Reply Claire Saul September 11, 2018 at 08:20

    Another great post, Sue and a very important one – despite the known increase in those of us experiencing mental health problems, there is still a taboo about speaking openly about mental health or illness. I take medication – secondary to chronic health problems – and hubby had a breakdown a couple of years ago in his mid 40s. Our GP said that it was his body’s way of shouting that it couldn’t cope with the stresses being put on it any more (work, caring for me, his dad being very ill – we both had surgery at the same time, 3 kids etc.) – but there was so little help, particularly for men. So – thanks for sharing on #mlstl. I have shared on my regular feature Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You on PainPalsBlog, Claire x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 11, 2018 at 08:25

      Hi Claire thank you for your honesty and I can totally relate to you and your husband. There is only so much we can take and I’m pretty passionate about mental health issues. People need to know they aren’t alone and won’t be judged if they express their feelings. Thank you for sharing in your Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You and have a beautiful week xx

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