Getting the heads up on mental health
Award-winning singer-songwriter Lucy Neville, 21, has experienced the stigma and discrimination associated with having a mental illness.
Anxiety had been part of Lucy’s life from the age of 13. She would assume the worst of every situation. She would avoid social situations, and was often crippled with feelings of paranoia and panic if forced to catch public transport or meet new people.
Many Nova trainees could relate to Lucy’s story and many questions were asked as to how she was able to overcome her anxiety and become a volunteer speaker as well as maintain employment.
Lucy shared that she got some professional advice, then started using relaxation and breathing techniques to keep her anxiety at bay.
New situations and travelling still make her uncomfortable but Lucy knows that prior planning and keeping things in perspective ensures that her anxiety no longer determines what she can and can’t do.
It’s common but it’s treatable
If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, you are not alone: it’s more common than you might think. Anxiety is an issue for one in three women and one in five men. And it is treatable.
One of Lucy’s key messages was to encourage the trainees to stay connected with people. Maintaining social connections improves wellbeing and confidence, and leads to opportunities.
Having a purpose and feeling like a contributor – along with staying connected with others – are important for mental health. Incorporating these aspects into our lives also help us to recover if anxiety and depression have already taken hold. It’s why having meaningful employment helps in maintaining good mental health.
Lucy had some other great advice for managing anxiety:
- Put situations into perspective. For example, job interviews can seem less scary when you think that an employer is only human and just wants to know what skills you have that will benefit their business – it’s just a conversation.
- Do something you enjoy such as reading, sport, gaming, listening to music, drawing, gardening or yoga.
- Eating well and getting enough sleep are also powerful antidotes to anxiety and depression.
Reassuringly, more and more people like Lucy are sharing their mental health stories and directing people to services, which are easily accessible 24/7 either via phone or online chats.
Trainees from Windsor, Rouse Hill and Blacktown outlets were very grateful to Beyond Blue for providing resources for Nova Trainees to take home and especially to Lucy for sharing her story with us.