Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) Coordinators are urging communities to think about ways to manage and cope with challenges in the lead up to the busy festive season.
Christmas is a festive time for most people, but it can also be a difficult period. People can experience stressors such as conflict, feelings of isolation, grief and missing of loved ones which can sometime lead to substance abuse issues.
Rural communities may also be doing it tough dealing with financial hardship, uncertain weather and market forecasts, as well as dealing with unexpected adverse situations.
Camilla Kenny and Di Gill of the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) said the good news is that there are practical tips on how to look after your own mental health and wellbeing, which can help to cope with the challenges that Christmas may bring.
Some of these tips include:
- staying connected with family and friends;
- volunteer to work with a charity;
- getting involved in social activities such as a community Christmas function;
- being mindful of our diet and getting enough sleep and exercise;
- being careful of excessive alcohol intake and avoiding other substances;
- trying mindfulness exercises and relaxation techniques.
“The festive season can also be a busy time for celebrations and it is important to remember safety such as how you intend to get to and from a destination and deciding who the designated driver is. Connections are also important and reaching out to those who may be alone can make a big difference," Camilla and Di said.
“We also need to be mindful of alcohol and other substances and the impact it can have on
people's judgement. Alcohol is a depressant drug which affects coordination, concentration, judgement skills and slows response times," Camilla and Di said.
Remember it is essential to seek help for any mental health or drug/alcohol concern over this period. Although many services will be closed over the holiday period, support from trained staff is available through the Mental Health Line, Drug & Alcohol Helpline and local hospitals.
If you have any concerns about yourself or a loved one, please contact the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 (free call for landlines) or Drug & Alcohol Helpline - 1300 887 000.
RAMHP and The Land are also facilitating a free public online forum on 'Coping with Christmas' at 12 noon on Friday, 9th of December.
“These online forums are a great opportunity for people to chat anonymously online and get support from a panel of experts," Camilla and Di said.
For details on how you can participate, please see below.
ONLINE FORUM DETAILS
When: Friday, 9th December at 12 noon
Where: Go to www.theland.com.au on the day and follow the links to the Friday Forum on the day.
An expert panel will answer questions about a number of important issues, including:
- how to look after yourself and stay mentally healthy;
- tips to reduce loneliness;
- how to reduce relationship stress at Christmas time;
- understanding difficult relationships and how to strengthen them;
- recognising stress and anxiety;
- when and where to seek help.
Panel members include: CEO, R U OK?, Brendan Maher; CEO Smiling Mind, Dr Addie
Wootten; Senior Social Worker, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Orange, Naomi Lavery; Relationship Counsellor and Group Facilitator, Interrelate, Michael Pitt and Case Manager,
Building Stronger Families, Interrelate, Sonja Peters.
Additional content if desired:
* Tips to enjoy the festive season safely:
- Pace yourself and sip drinks, do not scull
- Don't mix drinks
- Always get your own drinks and have one at a time: don't let people top up your drink as you can lose count
- Drink alternatives to alcohol such as soft drinks, juices and water
- Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink
- Avoid salty foods and nibbles such as peanuts and pretzels - they make you thirsty
- Eat a full meal before or while celebrating
- Avoid getting into 'rounds' or 'shouts'
- Always carry enough money for a taxi or a phone call
- Stay busy - go for a walk or play games like pool or darts - don't just sit and drink
- Try a low-alcohol alternative
- Plan how you will get to and from the venue safely, and even have a plan B
For more information, please visit ramhp.com.au.
Media enquiries: Brendan Williams, Media Manager, Western NSW Local Health District via firstname.lastname@example.org