I am a Young Person

Your mental health is important. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you might be feeling the effects of the uncertainty, isolation and disruption on your mental health. You may also have seen more conversations about mental health in the media, or with your friends. 

This could be distressing for young people who have a lived experience of, or who care for and support others with mental health issues. Here are some of YACVic’s tips for looking after yourself and your peers.

COVID-specific self-care resources

Download a cute poster of self-care reminders

It’s OK not to be OK

  • Mental illness does not discriminate, it affects all of us in different ways so don’t judge others because of their gender, culture, religion and beliefs, or sexuality.
  • It’s important to understand what your triggers are and how you can manage them. A combination of self-reflection and professional care can really help with this. Try looking into youth mental health organisations like headspace and orygen, or speaking to your doctor for a mental health care plan. 
  • Know what your boundaries are and tell people so that they can respect them. Always respect others boundaries.

Ask for help

  • Identify your community support network (friends, family and services) and ask for help when needed.
  • If you have lived experience of ill mental health, think through the parts of your story and who the safe and supportive people are to share this with. If you are not sure that they will respect your confidentiality, try sharing a small part of your story that you feel comfortable talking about first, and see how they respond.

Take time out

  • Find a safe space to take time out.
  • Take a break from media or social media that is negative. It’s OK to mute or block people or pages that make you feel bad. Don’t pass on negative images or comments about others on social media.
  • Excessive use of alcohol and other drugs can make you feel worse. Sometimes when you are stressed, anxious or feeling down its better to avoid them. At other times set a limit and stick to it. Tell your friends when you’re not using and ask them to respect and support your decisions.

Do the things you love

  • Engage in your creative side.
  • If you’re feeling stressed take some time out, let others know you are stressed, go for a walk or do something physical, listen to music or do something creative, read a book or do something else that you enjoy.
  • Spend time with animals, they are always willing to listen and enjoy your company.
  • Think of small things that are easy to do on a regular basis that bring you pleasure. This could be something like buying a coffee, sitting outside for lunch, or massaging your face when you apply moisturiser. Think of these as small daily rituals that you can look forward to.

Be a good mate

  • A good friend stands up for their mates and calls out bullies.
  • A good friend knows how to listen and support their mate to get help.
  • Know when and how to support a friend, and know when to get them professional or other help.

If you need urgent support

Kids Helpline

QLife Australia

1800RESPECT

Lifeline

If you are in danger, please call TripleZero 000 immediately.

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I am a Youth Worker

For workers who are supporting young people who have lived experience of, or who care for and support others with mental health conditions, it can be difficult to switch off.  

Over the coming months, with the Royal Commission into Mental Health, there will be an increase in mental health related conversations, assessments or mental health related work.

Here are YACVic’s tips on looking after yourself and your peers.

COVID-specific self-care resources

Download a helpful poster to remind your office to take care

Know your boundaries and ask for help

  • Know your boundaries, if a situation is beyond your skill level or capacity, ask others to assist.   
  • Know what services you can refer young people to. For more urgent referrals, know what waiting lists may be expected until someone can help and what your service may need to do to hold or support someone until they can get an appointment.
  • Build and maintain an up-to-date referral list of services in local community.
    • A good way to find this information about local services is joining a youth worker network; council youth services will often be able to tell you about your local networks. For region and state-wide networks, YACVic runs a Youth Peer Participation Network (YPPN) and Huddles.
  • Holding other people’s experiences can be taxing, even when you care, so you might need someone to listen to YOU. That’s okay, remember you have a support network to reach out to as well. 
  • If you are engaging with young people online, read this article for practical tips to set boundaries and manage your own wellbeing.

Make it a priority in your workplace

  • Make sure you are getting regular supervision and/or debriefing.
  • Ask about your organisation’s Employee Assistance Program if you need independent support and help. 
  • Organise an update for your team on knowing the signs of poor mental health including anxiety, depression, suicide and other conditions. You can use resources like Head to Health, or organise trainings like Mental Health First Aid.
  • Have team- or organisation-wide conversations about supporting and encouraging good mental health for everyone in the workplace.

Involve young people in the design of your response

  •  Ask young people how you can best support them.
  • When you’re speaking to young people about mental health, listen openly and actively to their experiences and needs.
  • Discuss mental health services and what can be improved with young people.
  • Involve young people in the design of service plans for what to do if you think someone is at risk of suicide.
  • Encourage young people to stay active and do things that they enjoy.

Do the things you love

  • Make sure you are getting enough time away from work and that your boundaries are clear and respected.
  • Try to use strengths-based language and pick others up on stigma-based language. There is power to language and if it’s not addressed it can further isolate young people or leave them with the impression that you are not on their side.
  • Stay active and do things that you enjoy.
  • Think about what activities you enjoy that are easy opportunities for mindfulness. Some examples could be yoga, wayapa, singing or music practice, colouring, or weaving. Simple, repetitive actions can also be nice moments for daily mindfulness, like chopping vegetables or brushing your hair. 

Take time off work

  • Take time off for your mental health.
  • Remember life outside of work.
  • If it’s practicable, delete work apps from your phone and only have them on your computer, so that you can only see them when you are logged on during work hours. Otherwise, turn off email and work reminders on your phone after hours. 

If you need urgent support

QLife Australia

1800RESPECT

Lifeline

If you are in danger, please call TripleZero 000 immediately.

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