The ABS national survey of Mental Health and Well-being has estimated that the annual cost of mental illnesses in Australia has been estimated at around $20 billion. Mental illness has the third highest type of disease that people suffer from in Australia. With such a huge cost on our society and its prevalence, it’s time to focus on improving the mental health of Australians.

1. Exercise: According to UTAS exercise science lecturer Dr. Cecilia Shing, “Regular exercise has been shown to be effective in both the prevention and treatment of numerous mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders. A single exercise session can boost confidence, reduce stress and improve your mood so we would love people to come along for our free exercise sessions to help raise awareness of the important role of exercise in enhancing mental health during mental health week”.

2. Time Out: We all live such busy lives now with a ‘switched on 24-7’ approach to life. This makes it even more essential that you take time out to achieve optimum mental health conditions. Give yourself some time off and relax your mind by participating in activities that your cherish and improve your mental health.

Simon Comtesse from Mentally Healthy WA at Curtin University stated, “The good news is that we can do a lot over the weekend to make ourselves happier just by doing ordinary things. And there’s an ongoing bonus: many of the things that make us truly happy also make us more mentally healthy and better able to cope with life’s stresses.”

3.Take Care of Your Health: It’s no surprise that there’s a close relationship between your physical health and your mental health. If you’ve ever had a serious illness, or just been sick for a period of time, you know how this can depress and lower your mental state. Conditions such as heart illnesses and diabetes can hamper your mental performance. Make monthly health checkups to a doctor to ensure that you are in perfect health.

4. Eat a Good Diet: New research conducted by the University of Melbourne has shown that women who eat a healthy diet may reduce their risk of developing anxiety and depression. Again and again a strong correlation has been shown between healthy eating and good mental health. So a simple strategy is to improve the quality of your diet. Eat lots of vegetables, salad with the appropriate amount of protein in the form of fish, meat and vegetable sources of protein.

5. Nurture Your Relationships: The quality of your relationships is also a strong predictor of good mental health. Make sure you take care of your relationships so that they are healthy and satisfying. If you have unfinished business with a friend of family member, attempt to repair the relationship. If you can’t repair it or the other party is unwilling, practice forgiveness so you can let go and move on. Practising forgiveness and compassion in your relationships are one of the best ways to improve your own mental well being.

What do you do to look after your own mental health? Share your thoughts in the box below.

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