Being Well: Why is being
mentally healthy important?
Director, Hunter Institute of Mental Health
The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is a
leading national organisation dedicated to
reducing mental illness and suicide and
improving wellbeing for all Australians.
We have worked from our base in Newcastle,
NSW for 24 years.
What is mental health and what
does it mean to you?
State of wellbeing, where we can
realise our potential, cope with normal
stressors, live and work fruitfully, and
make a contribution to society
More than the absence of illness
Relevant to every one of us.
Which of these is most likely to
‘bounce’ or ‘bounce back’?
What if this was the surface they
were bouncing off?
So mental health and resilience can
be built in the individual, but the
environment is also important.
Our family, workplace, school and broader
community environment matter.
How did I become an
expert in keeping my
car running well?
My first car –
a Datsun 120Y.
Tips for Being Well
• Sleep and rest
• Take time out
• Be active and eat well
• Connect with others
• Get involved
• Build confidence
• Accept yourself and
• Set realistic goals
• Reach out for help
when you need it
• Learn to manage
1. Give yourself
....but also have
zones of your
2. Keep things in perspective
Focus on what
you can change
and use your
values to help
3. Know your stress busters...
and USE them
•Exercise e.g. walk, swim, ride
•Relaxation e.g. yoga, tai chi
•Sleep e.g. getting a good night sleep
•Have someone you can talk to about what is happening
•Have people you can spend time with where you don’t talk about
what is happening
•Spend time with people you like
•Positive sensory experiences e.g. bath, massage, music
•Having a way of expressing feelings e.g. journal, art, talking
•Having a way of making sense of what is happening for you e.g.
counselling, church, advocacy
•Proactive problem solving e.g. write a list; action what you can
•Looking for what you have learnt from the situation and the new
•Spending time thinking/ doing something you enjoy
4. Stay in the moment
• Often stress is because of worry about what might
happen or because of focusing on things that have
• It can be helpful to bring yourself back to this
moment. Even for short periods of time:
– (e.g. 1 minute), focus on your breathing, what you
can see, hear, smell. Then bring yourself back to
what you need to do.
5. Reach OUT!
Be OK with asking for
help - it might be
asking for practical
assistance or moral
….and do it early and
don’t wait until you
hit crisis point.
What would you
do if you were
wasn’t quite right
with the car?
What would you do if you were worried
about a friend or family member’s car?
How can you assist a family,
friend or colleague?
Spend time talking about their experiences
Indicate you have noticed changes in behaviour
Let them know you will listen without judgement
Assist them to access help for their symptoms
Talk openly about mental illness
Encourage exercise, a healthy diet and involvement
Assist them to find further information or connect with
What people DON’T need
Ø Being told to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘cheer up’
Ø People avoiding them
Ø Assuming the problem will go away on its own
If mental illness affects 1 in 5 of us directly
each year, how many more of us are
indirectly affected as family, friends,
Things people who care for
Awareness of the personal and emotional impact of caring
Tips for managing responsibilities
Coping and self-care strategies
Advice on how to nurture their relationships
Understanding from other family, friends and colleagues
Awareness of services they can access
Hope for the future.
Supports and services
• EAP service
• Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
• Lifeline - 13 11 14
• beyondblue - 1300 651 251
• MensLine - 1300 78 99 78