Earlier this year we were told we had to change the way we interact as human beings in our society.
This was part of Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy’s advice on strict Government social-distancing requirements to help flatten the coronavirus curve, and while social distancing and isolation are key in helping to reduce further spread of the virus, these measures can also have an adverse impact on mental health.
Last month, research from headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation shows young Australians are fearful and uncertain for their future as a result of COVID-19. A national survey of 2,208 young people aged 15-25 and 2,164 parents of young people aged 12-25 conducted at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in Australia showed 40% of young respondents felt that the pandemic had impacted their confidence to achieve future goals – young women were more likely to feel this way (43%) than young men (38%).
Alarmingly, research also found that half of all respondents felt their mental health had got worse during this period (51%). According to headspace CEO Jason Trethowan, these results not only reflect the current mental health status of young Australians, but raised serious concerns for future wellbeing.
“We know young people are concerned about what their future looks like and how the current climate is impacting their ability to achieve their goals. This sense of fear and uncertainty has the potential to be quite significant and it’s critically important that any young person going through a tough time can and does access support,” said Mr Trethowan.
While the pandemic certainly didn’t positively contribute to the mental health in young people, there are many who already were and still are suffering from their own battles. Mental health affects many different lives for many different reasons and regardless of why someone is experiencing mental health, it’s absolutely crucial they seek help.
In Geelong, we’ve already lost too many young people to mental health in the last couple of months.
As a way to encourage early intervention and prevention responses, headspace Geelong has teamed up with the Geelong cats to help share ‘NIP it in the bud’ – the three step process when you’re worried about a friend.
“The formula details steps that friends and family can take with their young people, providing simple tools to notice changes in behaviour, learn helpful ways to check in and navigate support for young people,” says Trethowan.
Gryan Miers and Maddy McMahon from the Geelong Cats feature in a video explaining this process for young people, encouraging young people to notice, inquire and provides when they are concerned about a friend or family member experiencing mental health.
The video dives into the NIP it in the bud method, which you can also view below.
N stands for Notice:
You might notice changes in a young person, things like:
A noticeable change in how they are feeling and thinking
Feelings like anger, sadness, fear, not caring about anything, risk taking
You might see changes in the way your child is behaving or acting
Not enjoying things anymore
Changes in eating or sleeping
Being easily irritated or having problems with friends and family
Finding they can’t focus on things or maintain attention
Feeling down or that there is no hope or point to life
Having trouble concentrating or remembering things
Turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
Having negative thoughts or distressing thoughts
Feeling unusually stressed or worried
OR, Changes socially like withdrawal, being secretive, acting out of character
I stands for Inquire:
There’s no perfect way to start a conversation about mental health – so it’s ok if you’re finding it hard. It can help to do some research first, and also find a time and place where everyone involved is feeling safe. When asking, it can help to be specific about the things you’ve noticed. And remember, you’re asking to understand. Understanding your young person’s experience can leave you in a better place to respond in a way that helps.
Some ways to try might be:
Q: Hey, I’ve noticed you seem to have a lot on your mind at the moment. I’d like to hear how it’s been for you.
Q: I’ve noticed that sleep has been harder for you lately. Have you got some ideas about why that might be?
Q: I haven’t seen any of your friends recently. How have things been going?
Q: What can I do to be help?
P stands for Provide.
It’s about providing whatever it is you think your young person might need at that time. It will include support, listening, and empathy. Responding in a way that shows you’re really listening can make a big impact. Here are some statements that might help.
Statement – I can hear this is really tough for you
Statement – It sounds like it’s been impacting lots of areas of your life
Statement – Thank you for sharing with me, I care about how you feel and what you’re going through.
Taking the time to really try to understand can show the young person you’re a safe place to go to for support, and might mean they end up sharing more. In trying to find the best way to offer some support, it can help to share the decisions with the young person. Some statements that might help are:
Statement – I’d like to find a way that I can be helpful for you. Would that be ok for you?
Statement – It sounds like home is a bit stressful at the moment. Would you like to have a go with me at figuring out some ways to take some of that stress away?
Statement – I’m not feeling very confident about the best way to help at the moment. Would it be ok if we called a service to help us figure out the best way forward?
If you have immediate concerns take them to Emergency or phone 000 and stay with them.
If you or a loved one need help, contact:
-headspace Geelong on 5222 6690
-headspace 1800 650 890
-Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
-Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
-Barwon Health Jigsaw triage 1300 094 187
-Bellarine Community Health 5253 0400