The year is coming to an end, and this is a great time to reflect and express our gratitude for all the things that have happened this year.
For many of us, it’s a time to finish work or school for the year, unwind and settle into holiday-mode.
Other people may find the festive season very difficult, particularly those experiencing isolation, loneliness or mental health issues.
These experiences can all be heightened as we are bombarded with messages of family celebrations, gifts and holidays.
As well as this, thousands of young people may be facing big life changes over the coming months, such as starting a new school, awaiting exam results for higher education opportunities or beginning a job.
Losing the normal routine and structure of school, regular contact with friends or having to financially support themselves can make this time particularly challenging.
Students in university or TAFE may also be facing stressors at this time affecting their mental health and wellbeing. Some young people may have less parental contact leaving them vulnerable and changes in their mental health going unnoticed.
Families and friends are key in helping a young person get support. Knowing the signs and symptoms something might be wrong and then how to get help is important. For anyone supporting a young person they don’t need to be able to solve everything.
However, noticing changes and signs that something isn’t right is a good first step. Being withdrawn, not wanting to be with friends, not doing the things they would normally enjoy, ongoing worry or irritability are just some of the things to look out for.
If you need support or advice, headspace is here to help. As the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, headspace provides support to young people aged 12-25 who are going through a tough time. This can include support around mental health, physical health, work and study or alcohol and other drugs.
No matter where you are, you can access help through one of our 100 centres in metro, regional and remote areas of Australia, which you can locate on our website headspace.org.au.
There are also various resources for young people, families and friends covering different mental health issues and self-care strategies.
Help can also be accessed via eheadspace.org.au providing online and telephone support between 9am-1am (AEDT), seven days-a-week, including Christmas Day.
Jason Trethowan, headspace CEO
HEADSPACE TIPS AND ADVICE
Families and friends:
- Encourage your young person to stay connected: Social relationships are an important aspect of their general wellbeing. Friends can provide both play and support, and spending time with friends is also important for keeping and building on existing friendships.
- Encourage your young person to stay involved: Whether it is work, hobbies, clubs or sports – involvement with these can help a young person feel connected to their wider community.
- Partake in physical activity: If your young person is feeling down or finding things difficult, physical activities such as walking around the block, can help relieve stress and frustration.
- Keeping to a regular routine: Getting a good sleep each night helps young people feel energised, focused and motivated. By getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, this can help normalise their body clock.
- Eat well: It’s important to have a good balanced diet with less of the bad things (like junk food and lots of sugar) and more of the good things (such as veggies, fruit, whole grains and water). This can help with sleep, energy levels and general health and wellbeing.
- Sleep well: Getting a good night’s sleep helps you feel energised, focused and motivated. Developing a bedtime routine can help you sleep much better. To do this, try to wake up around the same time each day, get out of bed when you wake up and go to bed around the same time each night. Stay away from caffeine after lunch and try not to look at screens (e.g. phone, laptop) at least 30 minutes prior to bed.
- Be socially active and get involved: Social relationships are really important for your general wellbeing.
- Spending time with friends is also really important for keeping and building on existing friendships.
- Getting involved with volunteer work, hobbies, clubs or sports can help you feel connected to your wider community while also meeting new people.
- Play: It’s important for staying mentally healthy. Devoting time to just having fun can recharge your batteries, revitalise your social networks and reduce stress and anxiety.