Daily Questions during COVID-19

Daily Questions during COVID-19

It’s important to reflect at the start of each day to ensure that you’re doing everything you can during this time to stay positive.

Relationships Australia NSW has created a list of questions to use each day as a household or on your own.

There are four different versions of these questions (English, Mandarin, Korean and Traditional Chinese), you can download and print them below:

Low Cost Health & Wellbeing Options for International Students 

Low Cost Health & Wellbeing Options for International Students 


2020 has been quite the year, particularly if you are an international student living in the City of Sydney.

For many, living and studying abroad is an exciting experience, however COVID-19 has no doubt had an impact on our lives in a way that no one quite expected or planned for.

At Radiant we understand that for some, the move to online learning, physical isolation, lack of job security, financial stress and uncertainty around when and how you can return home to see family and friends can feel overwhelming and upsetting.

It’s important to take care of yourself during this time. There are a number of services that can help you and your mental wellbeing, many of which are free, low cost and can easily be accessed online or in and around the City of Sydney.

Please keep in mind that the latest medical information is changing on a daily basis regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus). To stay up to date, visit the Department of Health’s website here.

Free services

The Mental Health Line

The Mental Health Line is a free mobile service that you can access anywhere – it is available to everyone in NSW and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When you call, you will speak with a mental health professional who will ask you questions to determine if you or the person you are concerned about needs ongoing mental health care and how urgently it is needed. From there, they can put you in contact with the most relevant mental health support in your local area.

Website: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/Pages/mental-health-line.aspx
Call: 1800 011 511

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue is Australia’s most well-known and visited mental health organisation, focused on supporting people who experience anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges.

Check out their website for information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during this time.

Trained counsellors are available to provide advice and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They offer phone support services, online web chat support services, and online community forums, so you can get the support you need where and how you need it.

Website: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Call: 1800 512 348

NewAccess

NewAccess was developed by Beyond Blue and is a free and confidential mental health coaching program for anyone feeling stressed or overwhelmed about everyday life issues such as work, study, relationships, health or loneliness.

After you have made an enquiry you will be contacted by the service provider in your area. They will explain the program and ask questions to better understand your needs and establish whether the program is a good match for you.

A NewAccess coach will then work alongside you for up to 5 sessions. They will help unpack and develop an understanding on what is troubling you and will then help you develop tools and strategies that you can use in your day-to-day life.

Website: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/newaccess
Call: 1800 010 630

Lifeline

Lifeline is a call centre dedicated to helping people who are experiencing challenges in their life by listening without judgement. They are a national Australian charity that provides 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services and are committed to empowering you through connection, compassion and hope.

Website: https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Call: 1800 011 511

Sydney Sexual Health Clinic

If you think you might have a sexually transmissible infection (STI) you can visit the Sydney Sexual Health Clinic.

They provide free and confidential testing, treatment and care for people experiencing a STI or who are at risk of, or living with, HIV. If you think you might have been at risk for an STI or HIV you can complete the online risk assessment before giving them a call.

The Sydney Sexual Health Clinic and its services are free if you are:

  • Showing STI symptoms
  • Under 24 and showing no symptoms
  • Over 24, and showing no symptoms but you know you have had contact with someone with infection
  • Gay or bisexual
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • A sex worker (they also have interpreter, and Mandarin and Thai speaking staff that can help)
  • Participating in injected drug use.

Website: https://www.sshc.org.au/
Call: (02) 9382 7440
Location: Level 3, Nightingale Wing, Sydney Hospital, Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

NSW Sexual Health Infolink

The Sexual Health Infolink is a NSW Ministry of Health funded telephone and online information and referral service. Their service specialises in HIV and STI risk assessment, testing, treatment and support. They also provide specialist support to nurses, doctors, counsellors and other professionals who are caring for people with sexual health problems.

Call the number below to ask any questions about HIV, STIs and sexual health. Free testing is available with a Medicare card, or private insurance, through any GP who bulk bills.

Website: https://www.shil.nsw.gov.au/
Call: 1800 451 624

Low- cost services

The Psychology Clinic at the University of New South Wales (UNSW)

The UNSW Psychology Clinic provides a broad range of clinical psychology services at a low cost. The clinicians at the Psychology Clinic are trainees completing their Master of Clinical Psychology at UNSW. The Psychology Clinic operates on a fee-for-service basis with fees being used to support the clinical, training and outreach activities of the clinic.

Website: http://clinic.psy.unsw.edu.au/
Call: (02) 9385 3042
Location: 8th floor of the Mathews Building on the Kensington campus of the University of New South Wales
Fee: $40 per 50-minute session (standard fee) or $20 per 50-minute session (reduced fee for full-time adult students & holders of government-issued concession cards)

Headspace

Headspace Centres act as a one-stop-shop for young people who need help with mental health, physical health (including sexual health), alcohol and other drugs or work and study support. The centres are designed not just for young people but with them and so no two headspace centres are the same, with each offering unique services that reflect the needs of its local community.

For international students in the City of Sydney you can go to Headspace Camperdown, and access their services through using your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) (see our post on how to claim using your OSHC).

For most students insured under Allianz your fees will be billed to Allianz OSHC directly and you won’t have to pay anything. If you’re with another OSHC provider, you may need to pay for your appointment then be reimbursed by your OSHC provider later. You may also need to get a referral from a General Practitioner (GP). Call your OSHC and find out if you are covered for psychology sessions, then contact Headspace Camperdown to chat about getting an appointment.

You can make an appointment between Monday-Friday between 9-5pm by calling 02 4627 9089 or emailing [email protected]

OR

You can visit the Centre (Level 8/171-179 Queen Street, Campbelltown), check out the space and make an appointment with reception to come again and meet with a clinician.

Website: https://headspace.org.au/headspace-centres/headspace-camperdown/
Call: (02) 9114 4100
Location: Level 2, 97 Church Street, Camperdown, New South Wales 2050

The Psychology Clinic at the Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP)

The Psychology Clinic at ACAP is a not-for-profit psychology teaching clinic that offers a range of psychological services at a nominal fee or at no cost. Services are currently provided through TeleHealth services (over the phone) in response to COVID-19, however will return to face-to-face service delivery when it is safe to. The services provided by the ACAP Psychology Clinic are informed by current research and adhere to ethical and professional standards to ensure the quality of the services provided.

Website: https://www.acap.edu.au/current-students/acap-psychology-clinic/
Call: (02) 8236 8070
Location: Level 11, 255 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW Australia
Fee: No Standard Individual Consultation, Psychometric Assessment and Report Fees are charged for people who are full-time students or whose main source of income is an Australian Government pension or income support payment. Otherwise, the fees are:

Standard Individual Consultation – $20.00; Group enrolment fee* – $50.00; Psychometric assessment and report fee – $300.00
*There is a one-off enrolment fee of $50 that is payable on the first session of the corresponding group. Group sessions are free of charge.

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Psychology Clinic

The UTS Psychology Clinic is a not-for-profit teaching and research clinic that provides quality services to the community at a low cost.

Services are provided by Provisional Psychologists in their final years of training (Year 5 and Year 6) under the supervision.

Website: https://www.uts.edu.au/about/graduate-school-health/clinical-psychology/what-we-do/uts-psychology-clinic
Call: (02) 9514 7339 or email [email protected].
Location: One Hundred Broadway Clinic, One Hundred Broadway (Corner Broadway and Abercrombie Streets), Ultimo NSW 2007
Fee: $25 per session. $12.50 for concession.

One Door

One Door Mental Health is a leading mental health service provider specialising in severe and persistent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, schizoaffective disorder, borderline personality disorder.

Through One Door people living with mental illness and their families can find an inclusive community, innovative services and advocacy support. For more than 30 years, One Door has designed and delivered expert mental health programs that are now accessible through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Website: onedoor.org.au
Call: 1800 843 539

This information is valid as of: 24 November, 2020. For the most up to date information on opening hours, fees and services available please see individual service websites.

Counsellor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist: What’s the difference?

Counsellor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist: What’s the difference?


Therapy jargon can be pretty confusing. You might have heard of the terms counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, but what is the difference? And when should you go see one, and who is the right person to see?

There are a range of people who can help you with your mental health and wellbeing, but it can be hard to know who best to turn to. Radiant is here to help. Below we have collated a list of the types of professionals you will find on our website and what they do, so you can find the right support to fit your needs.

Your GP/doctor

A general practioner, also known as a GP or doctor, is a great person to talk to about your wellbeing; they will listen, give advice and provide treatment options if you need it. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or having difficulty navigating life’s ups and downs, your GP can be a good first port of call.

All GPs have mental health training and can help you work through what is going on and what might be the best treatment option for you. Depending on your situation they may refer you to a counsellor, a psychotherapist, a psychologist, a psychiatrist or another mental health practitioner.

Counsellor or psychotherapist

The terms counselling and psychotherapy are often used interchangeably.

Both professions involve individuals, groups or couples talking with a professional about any issues, problems and concerns they might be facing. Counsellors and psychotherapists are also likely to be registered with either Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia or Australian Counselling Association .

The key difference is that counselling is usually a brief treatment and centre’s around practical and more obvious problems like dealing with a stressful semester, a difficult boss, or managing relationship difficulties with your partner.

Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is longer in duration and looks deeper into emotional problems and difficulties. For example, psychotherapy might help you to uncover unconscious patterns to enhance your understanding of yourself and thereby improve the way you interact with the world.

Counsellor

A counsellor is a therapist who works with individuals, couples, families and groups to explore and address their identified concerns.

A counsellor can help you improve your mental health and wellbeing with the use of evidence-based interventions and therapeutic models such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and many others.

The counselling relationship is built upon trust, security, and confidentiality. Since counsellors often work with more urgent, immediate support, many counsellors are flexible in how they communicate, offering counselling support in various ways, such as online or in person.

Psychotherapist

Like counsellors, a psychotherapist also works with individuals, couples, families and groups but generally over a longer period. Using talk therapy, they will discuss and explore your past and present challenges, emotions, relationships and beliefs. Through this process they will support and empower you to take control of your life and heal from any psychological distress that you have experienced.

In addition to using talk-based therapies, some psychotherapist might also use art, music, dance and movement to support your therapy session.

People seek out psychotherapy for many reasons. The most common are when you have noticed a pattern of conflict or crises in your life and want to understand what is inhibiting you from reaching your full potential. Psychotherapists help you understand your personal narrative and how certain situations continue happening,

Psychologist or Psychiatrist

Psychologists and psychiatrists are both experts in how the brain works and are able to treat mental illnesses through psychological therapies.

The key difference is that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, whereas a psychologist is not. A psychiatrist is essentially a doctor of the mind and spends at least 11 years of training. They are able to write medical prescriptions. A psychiatrist will make diagnosis and manage treatment through a broad range of therapies that tend to suit more complex mental health conditions.

Psychologists have at minimum of six years of training and have special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. While many psychologists do have Masters or Doctoral degrees, they are not medical doctorates or MDs. Psychologists tend to see people with behavioral or learning difficulties, depression and anxiety. Like counsellors and psychotherapists, psychologists also use talk therapy but can also conduct psychological assessments and testing, as well as develop interventions and programs for individuals and couples, and groups.

Who should I see?

This entirely depends on your needs and objectives. As a first step, it’s best to make an appointment with your doctor and ask about

Your doctor will work with you and recommend the best practitioner for you to see. Radiant can then help you by guiding you through hundreds of mental health experts. Designed like a directory, you choose the filters that are most appropriate so that you can find the right person for you and your needs.

How to Stay Productive and Look After Your Wellbeing During the Coronavirus

How to Stay Productive and Look After Your Wellbeing During the Coronavirus

As the world continues to grapple with the Coronavirus, working from home has become the new norm in many work places.

Here are few tips on how you can stay productive while working from home and maintain your own well-being:

Create a schedule

Trying to create a somewhat normal routine is not only important for you but also for your children (if you have kids). Setting a schedule that replicates a school day or a normal work day can be really helpful. It helps to wake up at the same time every day and get dressed as you would on a ‘normal’ day, this will help with focus and productivity. It’s also important to still take a lunch break or coffee break and for kids it is still great for them to have a lunch hour, and in that time send them outside into the backyard to play. With your children/child set aside some time to write out all your schedules, you can have a reward system in place for whoever sticks to their schedules the best each day.

Keep up communication

Having regular chats with your colleagues is just as important as talking with your loved ones in this time. Being home over the next few weeks may get lonely for some, so having regular communication will not only keep morale high but is a good way to ensure you can stay focused, energised and  productive. Most people will be trying to manage the same challenges e.g. work and life balance, so the best thing you can do is be open and honest with your team. If you’re jumping into a video conference it is okay to give them a “heads up” that a child may come into the room or be making some noise in the background.

You may have family members or a friend who lives alone, so make sure you check in on them and let them know you’re only one call away. It is also beneficial to you to have conversations with those outside your house and if necessary have a vent or chat about what is going on at home.

You may live in an apartment block or have elderly neighbours or someone with a compromised immune system. If you’re heading to the shops it could be nice to slip a note under their door or give them a call and ask if they need anything. You will be surprised how many people would appreciate these small gestures and return the favour. Maintaining our community is good for us all.

Set up a work space and work boundaries

As tempting as it is to stay in your pyjamas and send emails from bed, it won’t be beneficial in the long run. It is important to treat working at home like a real job. If you already have a desk or office that is great, but if you don’t, setting up a space that is specifically for you is important. Up until now you might work on the dining room table for an hour at night. If you are now based at home, you might need to create something more established and more private. Setting up something similar for your children and creating a space that is just for them where they can do their school work will help keep them on track.

It is also a good idea to set boundaries for the people you live with, if you have children let them know if parts of the day are “do not disturb” time. You can have a sign on your door or a little note on the table with “thumbs up” or “thumbs down.” If you know that parental responsibilities could affect your work time, speak up openly with your team about your plans to work flexibly. You might need to have more breaks and to then log in again after dinner if you have home distractions.

Stay active

Staying active while working from home can sometimes be difficult.

Sometimes just a walk around the block before you start your work day or going for a walk/run in your lunch break is all you need. Either way, it’s important to take breaks throughout the day. Whether working from home or at work, we all need short breaks to stay fresh and alert.

Plan out your weekend activities

More and more places have opened up but because of restrictions in restaurants and cinemas it can be hard to get into places without some advance notice. It’s important to plan ahead to avoid disappointment. To keep things entertaining and different, one idea could be creating a bowl where each family member writes on a piece of paper a different activity you can do. Other ideas that don’t involve leaving the house include:

  • Board games
  • Drawing or painting competitions
  • Backyard sport – soccer, cricket, handball
  • Movie marathons/start a new TV series
  • Baking snacks for the week
  • My Kitchen Rules home edition (split the family into groups and have one group cook entrée, the other main course)

We know this situation is a first for all of us and will be challenging at times. You may be feeling completely overwhelmed and there are people who are here to help:

This blog originally appeared on Relationships Australia NSW.

 

How to Access Mental Health Support Using Overseas Health Cover (OSHC)

How to Access Mental Health Support Using Overseas Health Cover (OSHC)

If you’re reading this, you might have recognised that you don’t quite feel like yourself. Life happens to everyone – sometimes things are great and sometimes they just aren’t.

When we talk about health and wellbeing, most of us think of our bodies and physical health. There is no doubt that a healthy body is vital to our wellbeing, but so is how we are feeling emotionally and mentally.

All of us go through periods where we feel stressed, overwhelmed and where our mood, motivation and energy levels are not going as well as we would like. It is normal to not always feel your best and for your mental wellbeing to shift and change over time.

But if you’ve noticed yourself finding things more challenging than usual – perhaps you have been feeling sad, confused and overwhelmed about the future and for a prolonged period of time (a few weeks or more) – then seeing a professional might be a helpful step towards supporting your mental health and wellbeing.

As an international student in Australia, your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) can help you access support.

Check out our easy four step process:

Step 1: Understand what is covered under your OSHC

As an international student you are required to have OSHC for the duration of your stay in Australia. This would have been worked out prior to you arriving and is part of the requirements for studying here.

OSHC benefits are similar to what Australians receive through the national public health care system, Medicare. Some international students may even be eligible for reciprocal health care. Australia has agreements with 11 countries. Click here to see if yours is listed.

Otherwise, your OSHC cover should cover basic necessities like: in hospital and out-of-hospital medical assistance, prescription medications and emergency ambulance assistance.

We recommend touching base with your provider to see what type of medical appointments are fully covered or partially covered under your OSHC.

You can find their details below;

ahm OSHC www.ahmoshc.com
Allianz Global Assistance (Peoplecare Health) www.allianzassistancehealth.com.au/en/student-visa-oshc/
BUPA Australia www.bupa.com.au/health-insurance/oshc
CBHS International Health www.cbhsinternationalhealth.com.au/overseas-students-oshc
Medibank Private www.medibank.com.au
NIB OSHC www.nib.com.a

Step 2: Make an appointment to see a General Practitioner (GP)

A General Practitioner (GP) is a great person to talk to about your wellbeing. They will listen, give advice and provide treatment options if you need it.

When you book your appointment make sure you ask them how much an appointment will cost and tell them you would like to talk about receiving a mental health care plan. That way your doctor can know in advance to set aside enough time for your appointment.

Most OSHC will cover some or all of the cost of seeing a GP – but depending on the doctor you see, you may have to pay a fee of $30-50. Be sure to call ahead to ask about this when you make your appointment.

Step 3: Talk to your GP about the options available in receiving a mental health care plan.

During your appointment, your GP will work with you to assess whether you will benefit from a mental health care plan. They will ask a few questions, fill in the plan and set goals with you.

Check out our blog here  to understand more about how this process works. Essentially, a mental health care plan makes therapy more affordable and accessible. A mental health care plan might include:

  • A referral to an expert, like a psychologist
  • Advice on the types of mental health care that can support you
  • Other strategies to improve and maintain your mental health.

As part of this plan, your GP might suggest a mental health practitioner for you to see, or you can choose a mental health practitioner yourself.

If you would like to choose your own practitioner, Radiant can help you with this. We facilitate access to over 300 experienced counsellors and practitioners, so students like yourself can find the support you need during your time in Australia.

Step 4: Check your OSHC policy

Once your mental health care plan has been developed and you have found the right practitioner for you, it’s important to talk to your OSHC provider and ask them how to make a claim, how much money you can claim back and when.

If you’re a student with Medibank OSHC, you can call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283 at any time of the day or night. They’ll offer you advice and over-the-phone counselling as part of your cover. They also have an interpreter service so you can speak to someone in your own language.

If you are a student with Allianz OSHC you can call 13 67 42 and they’ll let you know which treatments are included in your policy.

For all others, contact them directly.

How much will it cost to see a mental health professional?

Every mental health professional is different, and the charges vary depending on their qualifications.

Counsellors and Psychotherapists tend to be more financially accessible, whereas Psychologists and Psychiatrists tend to cost a bit more.

To know how much it will cost, call your mental health professional beforehand to find out how much they charge. Then contact your OSHC provider and ask them how much money you can claim back.

From there, you will need to pay the gap fee. A gap fee is when the expense of the medical treatment is only partly covered by the health insurance. The part that is not covered by insurance is called the ‘gap’, and this is the amount you will need to pay.

For example, psychology is categorised under the specialist part of your cover. If the psychologist is registered under Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) then your OSHC may pay around 85%* of the MBS rates. Psychologists may also charge more than the MBS rate.

With a referral, the MBS fee for item 80110 (a Psychology visit) is $99.75. If you visit a psychologist that charges $140, and you have an OSHC that pays 85% of the MBS fee for specialists, you would get back $84.80, and your out-of-pocket cost would be $55.20.

Support is available, and people can want to help you. Remember that you are not alone and you can get through this.

How to get a mental health plan as an international student

How to get a mental health plan as an international student


Life as an international student in Australia can be really exciting. Learning about Australian culture, exploring a new city and enjoying some of the most beautiful beaches in the world is something that many people only dream about.

But living abroad, away from friends and family, is not always picture perfect, especially when living through COVID-19. Language barriers, study stress, loneliness or homesickness, financial worries and the uncertainty around when and if you are able to return home can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed and not like yourself.

Knowing how to access support in Australia and in a different health care system can be hard. Radiant is here to help make this process easier and the good news is that in Australia there are plenty of ways to get the support you need .

Seeing a Doctor

A General Practitioner (GP) is a great person to talk to about your wellbeing. They will listen, give advice and provide treatment options.

During your appointment, your GP will assess what help you need. If you are experiencing issues or concerns about your mental wellbeing, your GP may recommend you getting a mental health care plan.

What is a mental health care plan?

In Australia, a mental health care plan is a support plan for someone who is going through mental health issues and is essentially a referral letter from your doctor to a mental health care professional. Your doctor will work with you to develop the plan, and it can be useful for people with minor mental health conditions or very serious conditions, short-term concerns or long-term illnesses. You also don’t already have to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to talk to your doctor about making a mental health care plan.

How can a mental health plan help me?

A mental health care plan can help you in a number of ways. Importantly, it gives you and your doctor the opportunity to formally outline how you’ve been feeling, what your needs are and what results you would like. It also gives your doctor an opportunity to refer you on to an appropriate treatment or support service.

Having your own mental health care plan also provides you with a more economical option for seeing a trained mental health professional. With a mental health care plan you may be able to claim back some of the costs from your Overseas Health Cover (OSHC) .

Recently, the Australian government, boosted mental health care plans from 10 to 20 appointments per year. This means you are now entitled to 10 additional appointments (or sessions) per year that you can claim rebates on, making therapy much more affordable and accessible.

Steps for getting a mental health care plan

Step 1: Call your local GP’s office and ask to make an appointment with a GP. If you feel comfortable, you can tell the receptionist that you would like to talk about receiving a mental health care plan. Creating a mental health care plan can take a little longer than a normal appointment, so it can help to ask for a longer appointment when you make your booking.

Step 2: Talk to you GP about options available. In this appointment your GP will listen and work with you to understand your experiences and concerns about your mental wellbeing. They will assess whether you will benefit from a mental health care plan.

Step 3: Work with you GP to find the right support for you. Your doctor might ask you to take a test to determine what exactly is going on and who is best to help you. They will ask a few questions, fill in the plan and set goals with you.

Your doctor may suggest a psychologist or counsellor for you to see, or you can choose your own. You can look through our list of mental health professionals on the Radiant website and choose who you think is a good fit for you. Your doctor can then send a referral letter to the mental health professional of your choice.

How much will it cost?

It doesn’t cost anything to get a mental health care plan, but there may be a cost to visit your GP. This depends on who you see and how much they charge.

Most OSHC will cover all or some of the cost of seeing a GP. When you see a GP in Australia there is a set fee for the consultation called the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee. Doctors can charge more than these benefit amounts. If they do, you will need to pay to cover the difference (an out-of-pocket cost, also called a ‘gap’ fee).

Depending on the doctor, you may have to pay a gap fee of $30-50, so call ahead to ask about this or ask when you make your appointment. Most OSHCs cover the MBS fee only.

Your OSHC may direct bill your doctor, which will mean you may not have to pay the full amount at the appointment. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay for your appointment then be reimbursed by your OSHC provider later.

If you need help right away, phone Lifeline. They are available 24 hours a day on 13 11 14.
If you are aged 25 years or under you can also phone Headspace on 1800 650 890 or chat online to a health clinician.

If you need mental health support in your language, you can call the National Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450 or visit tisnational.gov.au to get an interpreter. TIS National covers more than 100 languages and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the cost of a local call.

Tips for Coping with Mental Illness

Tips for Coping with Mental Illness


According to the Blackdog Institute, 1 in 5 (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance use disorder.

If you have been diagnosed with a mental health illness then you’re probably already aware of how difficult it can be to find a sense of equilibrium. Even with medication and therapy, it can take time to find exactly what works best for you.

The most common self-help strategies are to exercise, meditate, eat a nutritious diet and learn how to be more present. Below we have a listed a few more techniques to add to your toolbox. Everyone is different and we all respond to things differently, so these are just some ideas. Some may work for you, others may not. Try them out and see what resonates.

Deep Breathing

In a previous blog post, we provided a few different breathing techniques that activate the body’s natural relaxation response. When we breath slowly with a focus on a longer exhale, we stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Essentially, just by breathing we are able to feel more connected to our body and quiet our busy minds. This is not for everyone though. Some poeple may find that focusing on their breath can actually be triggering so just be aware of how your body reacts and adjust accordingly.

Grounding with the 5 Senses

If deep breathing is not something that works for you, another effective tool is to ground yourself through all of your senses. For example, if you feel triggered by something, stop and look around the room you are in:

5 things that you can see
Take conscious notice of 5 things that are in the room you are in. Notice the textures, colors, size and shapes. Imagine taking a mental snapshot of this room right now.

4 things you can touch or feel
Take notice of your body. What can you feel? Perhaps your socks gently covering your feet, or your elbows leaning against a table.

3 things you can hear
What are the sounds around you? Perhaps the voices of people, or cars passing by.

2 things you can smell
What are the smells? Are there any?

1 thing you can taste
What can you taste? Perhaps a mint or chewing gum, or noting at all.

Going through your senses helps you stay you present and focused on what is actually happening around you, rather than the stories or thoughts in your mind.

Cognitive Reframing

Cognitive reframing is an effective tool that counsellors use to help a client see a certain situation a different perspective. For example, you applied for a job and found out you didn’t get it.

While it would be disappointing, especially if you feel the interview went really well. It’s not helpful to feel bad about yourself and consider yourself bad or unworthy because you didn’t get the job. Instead, you could reframe the situation: I didn’t get this particular job, but now I know how I can improve for the next one. If I keep trying I will eventually find a job, and maybe the next one will be even better.

Radical Acceptance

Radical acceptance means to completely and totally accept a given situation for everything it is.

It’s a skill taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. To radically accept something does not mean that you are agreeing or approving with what happened. Instead, it’s simply acknowledging reality and not fighting it.

Some ways we fight reality is by saying “It shouldn’t be this way,” or “That is not fair!” or “Why me?!”. But unfortunately, fighting reality will only make things worse. Sometimes life will deliver something that we did not want and it can be painful to accept. Just like being diagnosed with a mental illness. You simply cannot change the fact that you have a mental illness. The more time you spend trying to “get rid of it” or pretending it doesn’t exist is only draining you of valuable energy. Instead, accept what is. Accept yourself and your condition. Only then can you take the necessary steps to take care of yourself.

It can be really hard to practice all these, and it takes a patience and persistence. You don’t need to do it alone. If you need help then find a trained professionals on our website – either online or in person- who can help you today.

9 Ways to Help a Friend with Their Mental Health

9 Ways to Help a Friend with Their Mental Health


If you want to be there for someone who is struggling, it’s clear that you are already a good friend.

It can be hard to know exactly how to help them, or what to say.

It can also be hard to know what exactly is going on. Mental health is complex and we all respond differently.

How do I know if my friend has a mental health problem?

Below are some typical signs of mental ill health but it’s important to remember that everyone responds differently depending on many different factors. If you know the person well, you may notice changes in their behaviour or mood.

Signs of depression

People who are depressed may:

  • have low confidence
  • lose interest in activities they normal enjoy
  • lose their appetite
  • get tired easily
  • be tearful, nervous or irritable.
  • may feel suicidal.

Signs of anxiety

People experiencing anxiety may:

  • have difficulty concentrating
  • be irritable
  • try to avoid certain situations
  • appear pale and tense
  • be easily startled by everyday sounds.

Here are a few ways you can support them:

1. Consider the time and place

If you’re initiating the conversation take the time to think about the time and place. It’s best to choose somewhere you can talk openly, and a time when you can listen actively, without rushing or checking your watch.

2. Be prepared for setbacks

The person you’re reaching out to might not be ready to talk, and that’s okay. If you reach out and they dodge conversation or say it’s not something they want to talk about, it doesn’t mean the conversation is a failure. You’ve still let your friend or loved one know you’re concerned, and you’re there for them if they need you.

3. Ask gentle questions

Asking gently and compassionately can help your friend or loved one explore their options. You might ask how long they’ve been feeling this way, or if they need support to see a doctor (GP).

4. Know your own boundaries

It’s great for you to reach out and offer support, but it’s also important be mindful of where your expertise or capacity to help is limited. You might need to refer someone on to a professional or other support services.

5. Know who to call if there is a crisis

do your research to see what support groups are available in your local area. If someone is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, you should call 000 or reach out to a trusted person, like a parent, teacher, or health professional immediately.

6. Avoid minimising language

Try not to use language like “don’t worry”, “cheer up”, or “it’ll be better tomorrow” – language like this can make someone feel as though you’re minimising or trivialising their experience.

Also, try not to over-react by magnifying the issues and involving too many people. Avoid any fearful responses by reacting to unusual or eccentric behaviour by amplifying your own anxiety. Try to also avoid personalising what they are going through by telling them things like, “this is what worked for me, so it will work for you.”

7. Don’t diagnose

It’s important not to offer your own diagnosis of what they’re going through, or debating the facts of their experience.

8. Avoid trying to ‘fix’ the problem.

Though it is incredibly hard to see a friend or loved one hurting, it’s important to understand that mental illness is complex, requires patience, and won’t just disappear over night. Instead listen actively, practice patience, ask gentle questions, and suggest different ways for your loved one to seek support.

9. Try not to judge, analyse or question experiences you can’t relate to.

Experiences of mental illness are unique to each individual and can manifest in very different symptoms, behaviours and feelings. Try to listen without judgement, and to respond calmly, without exhibiting shock or alarm.

If a friend or loved ones need professional support you have a range of options.

If someone is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, call 000 immediately, even if they ask you not to. For a friend or loved one who isn’t sure what they’re experiencing, or needs immediate support, it’s best to go straight to a GP.

If you’re friend or loved one is ready to talk to someone and seek support, they might use a service like Radiant to find and connect to a counsellor or mental health professional that feels right for them.

Supporting a Friend Through a Traumatic Event

Supporting a Friend Through a Traumatic Event


If a someone you care about has been impacted by a traumatic event, it can be extremely distressing to watch them try to deal with the effects of such an experience.

It’s normal to want to help them or take their pain away. You may find yourself worrying about their well-being and you may feel helpless by their emotional reactions to the event.

Someone who has experienced a traumatic experience may seem ‘shut down’ or distant as a way to block out painful memories. Others may feel numb, or lack the energy to do things. They may stop participating in family life, ignore your offers of help, or become angry and irritable. Everyone reacts differently.

It’s important to remember that these reactions are signs that your loved one may not be coping. These reactions are not necessarily about you. If you are wondering what you can do to be supportive to a person dealing with a recent trauma, here are some places to start:

1. Recognise

It’s important to recognise that they have been through something extremely stressful event and may need time away to process what happened to them. It can be difficult to accept this but you can help them by providing practical day-to-day support, like helping them with grocery shopping or cooking a meal.

2. Listen

This probably one of the most important things you can do. Doing “active listening” can be really important to survivors of trauma. This means devoting your attention to the act of listening carefully without judging, interrupting, or talking about your own personal stories. Asking questions and clarifying what you are hearing is also an important part of active listening as it shows that you are interested in getting the details right.

3. Don’t judge

Try to imagine how it might feel to be in their shoes. Judgments are a heavy burden that many trauma survivors are familiar with, don’t add to this burden. Instead, you can help by simply supporting the person without implying that they should (or shouldn’t) have done something differently, or that what they did was wrong or right thing, or good or bad. Let the person guide the conversation and take their lead.

4. Acknowledge

Acknowledge what they are going through with statements like, “it’s really tough to go through something like this” or “This is such a difficult time for you”. Simply validating that they are going through a difficult situation can be really helpful. you can show that you understand by re-phrasing the information they give you. Try starting with something like, “You seem really…”, “It sounds like…”, “Did I understand right that you…”, “No wonder you feel…”

5. Avoid pathologizing

It’s normal to feel a range of different emotions to trauma. There is no ‘right way’ to react. Give the person a few weeks and refrain from labelling what they are going through as an illness. It only becomes a problems after a couple of months if their responses are interfering with the person’s daily life. If that is the case you could speak with the person about finding some professional support in a nonjudgmental way so the person does not feel attacked.

6. Take care of yourself

Taking care of yourself may be the most important thing you can do to help your loved one. Supporting someone who has been through a traumatic event can take a massive toll on you, so much so that your own health can be affected and you can no longer act as an effective support person. During these times, it’s critical to do your own self-care. You might also benefit from speaking to a counsellor or finding a support group. If you’ve tried all these strategies and things still aren’t improving after a couple of weeks, or if you or your loved one is having trouble coping with work or with relationships, talk to your GP. Your GP can help you and your loved one, and refer you to services and professionals that can help.

International Students & Mental Health Support: COVID-19

International Students & Mental Health Support: COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments in countries across the world have been doing what they can to help their citizens, keep them afloat, look after their mental health and attempt to mitigate some of the emotional, financial and psychological havoc that this virus has wreaked. There are a group of people that have fallen through the cracks, however. These are the numerous international students and graduates living and studying in a country that is not their own and unable to get support from either their home country or their host country.

In Australia, as of September 2019, there were some 720, 000[1] international students studying across Australia. Of these students, over 50% hail from China or other Asian countries[1]. The export income generated in Australia from international students is $37.6 billion[2]. Unfortunately, when the pandemic broke out, this group was overlooked and only recently, have Australian states made changes to assist international students and graduates living on the temporary graduate visa, which allows international graduates to work in Australia for 1-2 years to gain practical experience in their field.

If you are an international student in Australia and you are struggling, it is completely understandable.

Not only do you have the stress of financial difficulties, considering all the jobs cuts as a result of this pandemic, but you are far away from family and friends and your core support network. You have the added emotional stress of knowing that you can’t be near loved ones if they fall ill and even if you have the possibility of returning home, which in many cases is not an option due to border closures, you have the fear of jeapordising your studies and the even bigger fear of potentially contracting the virus while travelling and bringing it home to your families. It is absolutely normal that your mental health would be taking strain during this pandemic.

Before we get lost down the road of despair, let’s look at the things you can do to help yourself and the resources that are available to you.

Financial support by state:

 Queensland

Queensland International Student Crisis Assistance Package
Queensland has put aside $10 million to support international students who are experiencing severe financial hardship due to COVID-19. Check if you are eligible here. If you are a student and you pay separate utility bills (in your name and not as part of your rental payment), you are eligible for the Queensland Government’s $200 household utility bill relief, which should automatically be taken off your bills.
[More info]

New South Wales

NSW have put together a $20 million package to fund temporary crisis accommodation for international students. The NSW Government will fund up to 20 weeks of accommodation at approved student accommodation and homestay providers for international students with no home or means to pay for one .To apply, visit Apply for international student COVID-19 crisis accommodation There is also a 24/7 international student support service, which you can access through the NSW Government COVID-19 hotline (13 77 88). Here, you can get free advice and information on other support available, such as the moratorium on rental evictions and medical, mental health and legal support. Foodbank and the Rapid Relief Team, along with the NSW government, are delivering emergency relief packages and food boxes to those who are being instructed to self-isolate.
[More info]

Western Australia:

StudyPerth Crisis Relief (SPCR) is a program aimed at looking after the needs of international students during COVID-19 by providing support services such as food, shelter, and health and wellbeing and legal rights support. Be sure to first contact your education provider to check how they can support you before you apply to SPCR, as students who don’t get support from their institution will get priority.
[More info]

Victoria

If you are an international student in Victoria and have lost wages and work due to the COVID-19, the Victorian Government’s $45 million International Student Emergency Relief Fund may be able to help you with a one-off payment of $1100. Other measures being taken are one-off rent relief grants, utility relief grants and assistance in finding work through Working for Victoria. Victoria has also set up a dedicated COVID-19 online support hub, where you can find support programs and services such as food relief. You can get free advice and support from the Study Melbourne Student Centre, including information about mental health services and referrals to other services.
[More info]

South Australia

South Australia is helping international students through their International Student Support Package. The South Australian Government have teamed up with the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia to match the funding they provide to international students. For international students not enrolled at one of these three universities, a $500 emergency cash grant may be available to those who meet the criteria.
[More info]

Northern territory

You can get low-cost food with your student card at the Baptist Care Community Food Hub.
If you have been in Australia for longer than 12 months, you may be able to access your superannuation early. Login to myGov website and following the intention to access coronavirus support instructions.
[More info]

Tasmania

If you are a temporary visa holder, you may be eligible for the Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants to help with financial hardship. To access this service, call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738
[More info]

Australia wide

Ask Izzy helps people in crisis find services available to them in their area. These services include emergency housing, food, health, counselling and more.
Australian Red Cross is providing an emergency fund for international students who are in crisis without support. International student visa holders should first contact the Red Cross by email to access the support.
International Student Support Network ISSN 
If your education provider confirms that you are vulnerable as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for a heavily discounted ISSN homestay placement, include a private room, meals, utilities and host family support.

Counselling services available for free:

  • eHeadspace
    eHeadspace provides free online support/counselling to young people 12 – 25, based in Australia. They also have free resources on their website. Their app, ‘Weathering the Storm’ gives you access to meditation, sleep, and movement exercises.
    In NSW, international students can access mental health support from the Mental Health Hotline, which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. PH: 1800 011 511
    The ASKPEACE Project provides counselling and support for people from non-English speaking backgrounds. PH: 08 8245 8110
  • Beyond Blue
    This non-profit organisation can help you with things like depression, suicide, anxiety and other mental health issues.
    Online coronavirus forum
    Phone: 1300 22 4636
  • Lifeline
    Lifeline provides a 24-hour support & suicide prevention line and can help anyone who is in personal crisis.
    COVID-19 Phone: 13 11 14

Getting a Mental Health Care Plan

The Australian Government requires health care providers to cover the benefit amount listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for out-of-hospital medical services. This means international students are fully covered for sessions with general practitioners (doctors) and psychiatrists. But students are only partially covered for up to 10 sessions per year with psychologists, having to cover the remaining fee by themselves.

In most cases, students must pay the full amount up front and will only get the part payment back by going to the office of their insurance provider. To see a psychiatrist or psychologist you must first be referred by a GP and there’s a two month waiting period for pre-existing conditions. Further coverage is available at an increased cost.

Learn more about how to get on a mental health plan here.

[1] https://monitor.icef.com/2019/11/australian-international-student-enrolments-up-11-through-september-2019/
[2] https://www.statista.com/statistics/977688/australia-export-income-from-international-education-services/#:~:text=Export%20income%20from%20international%20education%20Australia%20FY%202013%2D2019&text=From%202013%20to%202019%20the,billion%20Australian%20dollars%20in%202019.
R U OK? Day: How to Help Someone in Distress

R U OK? Day: How to Help Someone in Distress


R U OK? is a non-profit organisation dedicated to suicide prevention. Their vision is a world where we’re all connected and protected from suicide.

Their mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

Their goals are to:
  • Boost your confidence to meaningfully connect and ask about life’s ups and downs
  • Nurture your sense of responsibility to regularly connect and support others
  • Strengthen your sense of belonging because we know people are there for us
  • Be relevant, strong and dynamic

Here’s how you can initiate a conversation that could save someone’s life:

1. Ask: Are you OK?

Be relaxed, warm and concerned. Help them open up by asking open ended questions like “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?”

Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “You seem less chatty than usual. Is everything okay?”

If they don’t want to talk, don’t push them. Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.

2. Listen attentively without judgement or interruption

Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation. Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them. If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence. Show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly. Sometimes just the act of having someone listen non-judgmentally can mean everything.

3. Encourage Action

Trying asking the following:

  • “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
  • “How would you like me to support you?”
  • “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”

If they’ve been feeling really down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. Their GP is the best person to start with. Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times. If money is a concern, remind them that there are many community centres who offer free counselling for this exact reason.

4. Check-in

Remember to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, follow up with them sooner.

You could say: “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.”

If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference

Try to Avoid:

  • Arguing or debating about their thoughts of suicide
  • Discussing whether suicide is right or wrong
  • Guilt tripping them
  • Trivialise their problems by telling them others have it worse
  • Say things like “don’t worry”, “you have everything going for you” or “cheer up”
  • Interrupt with stories of your own
  • Attempt to give a diagnosis of a mental illness