GYMHA MEMBER NEWSLETTER
AUGUST 2021 - ISSUE. 05
Dear Esteemed Reader,
Welcome to the August edition of our newsletter. Our interest is to help you gain insight about Mental Health the best way possible. Our Vision is that everyone everywhere has someone to turn to in support of their Mental Health. In this edition, we have great contents that will boost your knowledge about Mental Health.
Coming soon: GYMHA Psychological First Aid (PFA) online course
- Psychological First Aid (PFA):
-First –line psychosocial support after a crisis event
- What PFA is and is not?
- Who, when, and where of PFA
- How to help responsibly
- Action principles: Look~ Listen~ Link
- Things to say and do
- Supporting those who likely need special attention
- Self-care and team-care for helpers
- PFA capacity building for disaster preparedness and response
- PFA resources (translations, adaptations, online forums)
Exciting news at GYMHA!
Since the inception of Global Youth Mental Health Awareness (GYMHA) Incorporated, Australia, the not-for-profit organization, has never relented in raising awareness and improving youth emotional and mental health outcomes as well as making psychology a household term.
Its global network of professional members has been physically and virtually empowering people experiencing psychological health problems, emotional turmoil, adjustment issues, and concerns, without any stigma or prejudice with every little act of kindness.
Recently, GYMHA in preparation for its second annual Stress Management Summit, has produced POLO shirts which will be globally distributed to members for a TOKEN. The Polo represents the identity and image of GYMHA. In this light, members should lengthen their voluntary support by having a Polo.
Thank you in advance for your generosity.
DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY DURING LOCKDOWN
By Toli Papadopoulos
NOTE: I am not a psychologist and don’t have any formal training in mental health. However, I am motivated by improving the lives of young people through better well-being and mental health practices. I am a journalist by profession (currently I work in communications in the public sector) and so my natural inclination is one of curiosity: i.e. how do we build a better self? I believe mental health is like a muscle; we can exercise it and build strength. While our genes or experiences can make us prone to chronic issues, we have the power to build our mental muscles through healthy lifestyle practices. These practices are adjuncts and not an alternative to talking to a mental health professional and/or considering medications supervised by a medical professional when required.
As I write this article, Melbourne is in the depths of a sixth lockdown – the impacts of which perforate through our society. While the necessity of locking down has proven to save lives and reduce the risk of contracting Corona virus (which can have severe long-term health impacts), there is undoubtedly a significant impact on mental health.
Unemployment, feelings of isolation and loneliness, loss of hope and despair for the future are all real and not insignificant impacts on our society.
In this vein, many of us have become tired and fatigued with checking the daily corona virus (COVID-19) numbers and hoping for that elusive elimination (or doughnut day – 0 cases) until sufficient vaccine coverage is achieved.
But how do we cope with broader uncertainties and how can we make the best of a difficult situation? It’s important to note that we all experience suffering to varying degrees and our individual situation will vary. Some of you might not know when your next pay check is coming – you might own a business and operating under lockdown conditions isn’t feasible. Others suffer more complex inequalities of which I cannot even begin to understand.
The following tips may be of assistance to you in dealing with the next few months.
Ask yourself – how do I want to remember how I dealt with this experience?
If I look at my own experience – I have always prided myself on the notion of resilience. However, when things are going well, it’s easy for us to look at our circumstances and say ‘if things ever get rough’ I am sure that I could deal with them or the old adage ‘life is full of ups and downs’. But when those downs actually come, it’s certainly easier said than done.
Remind yourself of a better time when you made those assurances, ask yourself: how do I want to remember myself during this experience? You may find the idea of being resilient or living up to your true sense of self has a self-motivating factor.
What resources do I have right now and how can I use them?
What is something you can do right now that would help position you for a better future? Maybe it’s establishing healthier habits or a more regular exercise routine. Is there a professional development course you can enrol in (Coursera or FutureLearn have a variety of free courses) to help develop your skills or support a better you?
Look to better your mental health
Regardless of whether we identify as ‘stressed’, ‘anxious’ or ‘depressed’, talking to a clinical psychologist regularly can provide space and perspective from your thoughts. As mentioned above, it can be beneficial to think of your mental health like muscles that can be built.
Talking to a professional may help you unlock a self-awareness you weren’t fully conscious of and you might find there are unhelpful patterns of thinking and feeling that are hindering aspects of your life. Staying ahead of the curve can also mitigate the risk of worsening mental health down the track and also help build patterns of resilience.
Likewise, you might want to consider mindful meditation, which has a variety of benefits in reducing stress and may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression to the same degree as anti-depressants for some people.
A regular exercise routine can also have similar benefits. Find some exercises or activities that suit you, be it tennis, running, boxing or Zumba.
Explore philosophy and/or spirituality
Socrates the Greek philosopher said ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’.
Introspections help us in our pursuit of wisdom and can provide perspective and space from our situation.
I am of Greek origin. As a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. The meaning I experienced in my life was often with my family enjoying the little things. I distinctly remember sitting with my grandparents in their front yard in the Melbourne suburb of Prahran just watching people pass on the street. Together, it was as if we were watching the world go by and feeling a sense of calm and serenity.
When I think of this situation, it reminds me of a simple time and I remember life as a series of experiences and the various phases we move through.
My grandparents have passed away now, but these experiences and their memories live on in me.
Likewise, exploring some of the many literary works on philosophy or spirituality can provide you with perspective or meaning to your experience.
Stoicism for example focuses on the dichotomy of influence and control and remembering through our mortality that everything is ephemeral. Realizing how little control we have over things in the universe can re-orientate us and make some of our routine desires (whether it be a higher salary, new relationship or otherwise) feel insignificant.
Remember a time when you were hiking or walking through spectacular scenery and you saw those sprawling mountains or greenery. How did you feel in that moment? This is the exact same feeling – one of insignificance, yet of solace.
Here’s a list of books you might find useful (and in my top four)
- Meditations – Marcus Aurelias
- The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle
- Flourish – Martin Seligman
- Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl
Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. Lockdowns will have different impacts on everyone. While we might not have control over our circumstances, we might find that when we truly reflect and look around, there are many things we can control.
Have you got any feedback on this blog? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or add me on LinkedIn – Toli Papadopoulos
Have you checked out our blog lately? GYMHA is determined to ensure that no one is left out as far as Mental Health is concerned. There’s so much information that will enhance your knowledge and perception about Mental Health, so much so that you gain basic skills you can share with someone going through Mental Health challenges.
Please visit our blog below and get inspired!
INTERNATION YOUTH DAY CELEBRATION
In commemoration of the International Youth Day
The Global Youth Mental Health Awareness (GYMHA) joins the world in commemoration of the International Youth Day observed and celebrated every 12th August across the world.
A day youths dedicate their time to giving new, insightful initiatives and take actions against challenges faced by the younger generation.
These challenges could be physical or mental health that wouldn’t allow them to live a fulfilled life. These challenges could also be stress that has denied them peace of mind and the ability to thrive.
GYMHA is calling on such youths to be part of the free virtual Stress Management summit that will give them the techniques to control stress and adversity, build an unshakable core of inner strength to thrive in a challenging world.
We would love to appreciate and thank our amazing, youthful, and resourceful volunteers for their immense contributions to the advancement of GYMHA, online and offline.
We wish them a successful International Youth Day celebration and urge everyone to keep raising awareness on mental health globally.
On this occasion, we encourage everyone to listen to what our amazing Event Manager, Sandeep Nath has to say.
Our Advice to Governments: despite other demands, we must continue to prioritize mental health reform.
By Leanne Beagley
Our advice highlights six key points for the government – commonwealth, state and territory – to consider. These are:
The foundational principle that there must be involvement of people with a lived experience of mental ill health in the development, implementation, oversight and evaluation of the agreement.
The need for clear accountability, coordination of activity and transparency of action, and the need for First Ministers to take responsibility for the outcome of the agreement.
There must be a commitment to long term funding enhancements based on an objective reference point, and that investment should be incrementally added to the system against a set of transparent priorities and with transparent governance and oversight.
Governance and implementation mechanisms must include representation from the sector drawing on its expertise and recognise the foundational principle of the involvement of individuals with a lived experience of mental ill health.
Endeavour must focus on activity beyond the health system and include responses that address the social determinants and root causes of mental ill health and suicide including poverty, trauma and incarceration.
The evaluation and measurement of outcomes built into the agreement must include whole-of-government measures that deal with long term improved mental health and wellbeing for the whole community.
During this difficult time there is no doubt our health system, health departments, health officials and health ministers, are under immense pressure as a result of the pandemic. Pressure has compounded over many months as broader health and social issues have ensued. It appears this pressure will continue for some months to come, as we all battle this pandemic and find our way forward.
But this pressure cannot get in the way of mental health reform being a priority at this time. We must capitalize on the work that has gone before us over the last three years to get us to this point and we must continue to prioritize mental health reform, which starts with a National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement.
UNITED NATIONS SOUNDS MENTAL HEALTH TIPS
Here are a few tips: exercise regularly, eat healthy, get enough sleep, limit alcohol intake, and talk about your feelings.
Mental health is just as essential as physical health to our overall well-being. When we feel mentally well, we can work productively, enjoy our free time and contribute actively to our communities. Let’s explore some simple steps to help improve your mental health.
- Learn to slow down and connect with the world around you.
- Banish difficult emotions.
- Be kind to yourself.
Here are more resources to manage your mental health: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/mental-well-being-resources-for-the-public
LOSS AND GRIEF
By Edith Wanyonyi
What is grief?
Grief is the overwhelming pain that we go through in response to a loss in our lives. A person is likely to experience unexpected grief with the loss of a dear one, a beloved pet, or a job.
Since the start of COVID 19, many people have experienced loss in one way or another. Recently, GYMHA lost a gem, Asuquo Miracle Effiong, a vibrant and selfless young volunteer in a road accident. He was passionate in the advancement of GYMHA. May his soul rest in peace.
It is important to note that grief is a personal experience. People will respond and heal differently. The duration will also be different for everyone. The feelings will often fade over time.
Coping with grief
Here are some tips to help you cope with grief:
- Talk to family or friends
- Seek counselling
- Read poetry or books
- Engage in social activities
- Eat healthy
- Seek spiritual support
- Take time to relax
- Join a support group
- Listen to music
- Be patient with yourself
- Express your grief
How can we support people who are grieving?
- Be a good listener
- Ask about their feelings
- Just sit with them
- Ask about their loss
- Do not dismiss their feelings
- Keep in contact with them
- Acknowledge their pain
- Let them express their emotion
- Be available when you can
- Empathize with them
THE BIGGEST ANNUAL ONLINE SUMMIT ON STRESS MANAGEMENT
By David David
Have you ever wondered how stress interferes with our lives and damages our health? Take a look at this scenario; you’re sitting in traffic, late for an important meeting, watching the seconds tick away. Your heart races, your breath quickens, and your muscles ready for action. This response was designed to protect your body in an emergency by preparing you to react quickly. But when the stress response keeps firing, day after day, it could put your health at serious risk.
There is no doubt you’d have stress in your life – we all do; it’s normal. One of the best things you can do for your health is “manage” that stress, even when you can’t control its source.
Some stress can be good. It can be a challenge that keeps us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. But too much stress can make us sick. And it can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.
If you’re constantly under stress, you can have physical symptoms, such as headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, and problems with sex and sleep.
Stress can also lead to emotional problems, depression, panic attacks, or other forms of anxiety and worry.
It’s not just the stress itself that’s the problem. It’s how you respond to it. For instance, if you smoke, use drugs, overeat, gamble, spend too much, or have risky sex, that’s going to cause more problems.
Stress is a natural, physical, and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone expresses stress from time to time. Anything from everyday responsibilities like work and family to serious life events such as a new diagnosis, war, or the death of a loved one can trigger stress. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health. It can help you cope with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond.
Yet if your stress response doesn’t stop firing, and these stress levels stay elevated far longer than is necessary for survival, it can take a toll on your health. Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms and affect your overall well-being. Symptoms of chronic stress include: irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia.
Staying away from major stress is easier said than done, but there are some tactics you can look into. These vary from person to person.
The key is increasing relaxation, so whatever helps you relax could work well. Regular exercise is never bad, and some people combine this with meditation during activities like yoga or Pilates. Others just read a book or watch their favourite television programs, and others might enjoy the outdoors.
Just as important here is eliminating as many of the unnecessary causes of your body’s stress as you can. Certain bouts of stress can’t be avoided, but you can identify the high-stress parts of your life that you can afford to cut out. For some people, this might be a relationship with a volatile friend or family member. Only you can identify these areas for yourself, so be as honest with yourself as possible.
To be on the safe side, you must learn how to manage stress. Let the experts and professionally trained stress managers guide you. Join the upcoming annual online Summit on Stress Management – The Stress Management Revolutions Summit 2021, organized by Global Youth Mental Health Awareness (GYMHA), Australia.
You have to be in this summit to benefit from the world’s most renowned humanitarians, psychologists, neurologists, psychiatrists, allied health practitioners; political leaders, community leaders, youth activists, artists, and researchers who will come together and openly share insights to improve the mental health of all participants.
Date: August 28 & 29 (Sat, Sun), 2021.
Time: 7pm AEST, 9am GMT
Format: Online, over Zoom.
All participants will have a clear roadmap to recognize stress and to create conducive habits and environments.
For more details about the guest speakers’ profiles and agenda, please visit the summit website:
Keynote Speaker Introduction - Hon. Maria Vamvakinou, Australia Minister of Parliament (MP)
The highly anticipated Stress Management Revolutions Summit 2021 is less than two (2) weeks away. And we’re so excited to introduce to you our Keynote speaker, Federal Labour Member for Calwell, Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration, Hon. Maria Vamvakinou MP.
Maria Vamvakinou is the Federal Labour Member for Calwell. Maria is the first Greek born woman to serve in Australia’s federal parliament. Maria is Deputy Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Migration and along with several other committees, is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.
Maria is a strong advocate of multiculturalism and represents one of Australia’s most diverse electorates. Maria believes that young people across a diversity of backgrounds are needed to help better inform and shape political and social discourse in Australia.
Want to e-meet or hear more from Hon. Maria MP and other guest speakers?
Please, click here to register: https://smr-masterclass.eventbrite.com.au
For any enquiries or more details about the guest speakers’ profiles and agenda, please visit summit website:
Kindly share across your networks.
Thank you in advance!
SPIRITUAL CARE AIDS ONE TO CLEARLY IDENTIFY HIS/ HER SPIRITUAL CENTRE TO RESOLVE SPIRITUAL NEEDS.
By: Chap. Dr. Matthew Ngobua.
Anything one places above all things in his or her life becomes the spiritual centre from where he can draw strength in times of weakness and hope in times of hopelessness. In times of illness, mourning, grief, sorrow, disappointment, shock or crisis, people connect their spiritual centre for coping strategies.
To some, shrines are where their confidence lies to resolve their spiritual needs. The traditional priest will connect them with deities and proffer a solution to be implemented by the client. Some people during times of crisis consult or send someone to connect to the spiritual to find out causes of illness, barrenness, death, poverty, or misfortune.
Some turn to habits like smoking, drinking alcohol and taking hard drugs as coping mechanisms. Some turn to religion as spiritual centre. Religious rites such as confession to a Priest, reciting a particular prayer or psalm or scripture or performing a particular sacrifice will help resolve the spiritual crisis.
This connection with spirituality through religion is with the belief that fulfilling religious or doctrinal conditions can help them resolve the spiritual crisis. This is where religious leaders play a significant role to guide people to connect spiritually to resolve a crisis in their lives.
There is however a danger of over depending on religious leaders because once they fail to connect with the spiritual, emotions and psychology step in to resolve spiritual issues.
To Christians, connecting God through Jesus Christ is paramount. The Name and Blood of Jesus Christ are coping spiritual resources to whosoever believes in Him. At a point of shock, Christians quickly access their spiritual centre by shouting “Blood of Jesus!” or “JESUS!” Even when having a nightmare, shouting the name of Jesus gives relief.
Also, Christians experiencing any form of spiritual discomfort such as grief access spiritual centre by reading the Bible and related scriptural books as well as prayer, fasting or both.
It is important to note that religion is a finger pointing to spirituality where the Bible tells us God is worshipped in spirit and truth. Some people are religious but not spiritual. Some are spiritual but not religious. The ability to separate religion from spirituality is central to understanding God.
One then wonders why some so called Christians visit native doctors and juju priests to seek answers to spiritual discomfort or problems. The answer is simple. They have lost confidence in their spiritual centre and have gone in search of a new spiritual centre that will resolve their problems.
This is where Chaplains and Spiritual Care professionals – ordained ministers, trained, certified and licensed to practice as generalists or specialists – play the gigantic role of helping people to clearly identify their spiritual centre especially during a spiritual discomfort. Chaplains and Spiritual Care Specialists who are Christians guide their patients to the truth that there is a Comforter – the Holy Spirit.
When facing temptation – which is a form of spiritual crisis – access to spiritual centre determines if you will fall or not. Sin is a spiritual injury which must be identified and treated to enable the sinner (patient) heal or recover. Christians who fall into sin easily lack coping strategies due to inability to access spiritual centre at the heat of temptation.
In a hospital setting, Hospital Chaplains and Spiritual Care Specialists facilitate inpatients to access their spiritual centre. This plays a significant role in their recovery. This is what spiritual care means.
While attending to the spiritual needs of patients, Chaplains and Spiritual Care Specialists also offer religious and pastoral care if the person is of the same faith. If not, referral is made by inviting the patient’s religious or denominational based clergy to administer religious care such as end of life counselling, baptism, confession, communion etc.
As a matter of fact, people who have multiple spiritual centres suffer spiritual identity crisis. No wonder the Bible warns that one cannot serve two masters. Spiritual care is crucial to holistic health. Identify your spiritual centre and draw strength therein during spiritual discomforts.
- Job Vacancies:
When you join VicHealth, you get to work with a diverse group of highly skilled, committed, and passionate people.
Available positions: https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/about/careers
- VicHealth New and updated articles:
- VicHealth commissioned The George Institute for Global Health to analyse two innovative models that integrate well-being into the business of government: the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and New Zealand’s ‘Well-being Budget’. Access the new report here – https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/media-and-resources/publications/integrating-wellbeing-into-the-business-of-government
- Upcoming events:
- 19th August: Storytelling for Change – Prevention of Violence against Women Communications Masterclass – Woman’s Health Victoria
- 28th & 29th August: Stress management revolution summit https://bit.ly/gymha
- 4th – 11th September: Smartphone Stories Yarra Ranges – Montrose
- 10th September: Prevention through Connection, Southside Eastern Suicide Prevention Network – Bentleigh East
- Applications to join the 2022 Victorian Youth Congress are now open! Help lead our communities by tackling big issues affecting young Victorians to build a fairer and more inclusive future for all. All forms and contact details are available at: https://tinyurl.com/y9wp29x7
Applicants must be 12-25 years old and live in Victoria. Applications close 13th September. Good luck!
- Why we can’t end violence against women without community-led approaches https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/community-led-change-webinar-tickets-16646946164
- Australians looking for support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Well-being Support Service anytime via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at www.coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au
- Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.
- If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
- GYMHA Chairperson, Anthony Neale Interview with Adrian Lee (Personal Trainer) https://youtu.be/Ib5aucFS_Hk
- Dealing with Burnout by GYMHA Special Advisor, Dr. Nasrin Parsian
- Did you know that there is a price connected to everything that we want? And it’s not all about money! By GYMHA Volunteer, A.Angelina Braver
Watch and get inspired here! https://youtu.be/LTWLWPtBB7Y
Special thanks to our writers, editors, and all our amazing contributors.
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