Feeling connected and supported: The key to staying mentally well?

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04 September 2020

RUOK

If all the challenges of 2020 have taught us one thing, it’s that maintaining your mental health can’t be taken for granted. Strong social connection is increasingly seen as playing an important role. Here are some simple tips for nurturing the social connection and mental wellbeing of young and old.

A vital factor for maintaining good mental health – and supporting recovery from problems like anxiety and depression – is your social connection. Strong social connections include having positive personal relationships and being part of a community, whatever your age.

Building supportive relationships in your family and community

Giving our loved ones the gift of our attention is one of the most important things we can do. Even with our busy modern lives, it’s more important than ever to make time for each other and the conversations that matter, especially for the older and younger members of our families.

Being there for older people and adults

It’s important to check in on people as frequently and in a way that they are comfortable with. This could mean a phone or video call, a text or email, a chat over the fence or a cup of tea, or a conversation during a shared meal – even if it’s via a video link. The key is to let them know that they are in your thoughts, that you have time for a chat and that they can ask you for help.

Asking questions like “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?” can open the door to conversations about big issues and feelings, like stress, being overwhelmed, anxiety and depression. Offering practical help for things like grocery shopping, cleaning or getting to appointments is best done in a way that acknowledges their independence. These activities also offer great opportunities to chat about how they’re feeling.

Supporting children and teenagers

Children and teenagers can easily pick up on community and family anxiety around COVID-19 and its social fall out. This can make them more vulnerable to suffering from anxiety or depression themselves.

While some sadness or frustration around being separated from their school mates and activities is to be expected, keep an eye out for signs of more serious problems. Common symptoms of anxiety or depression in children include irritability, difficulty concentrating and sitting still, stomach aches, sleeplessness and fatigue.

You can help by talking about COVID-19 or any issue that is stressing your child in an age appropriate way. Help them see things with some perspective and maintain a sense of hope. Like most of us, children respond well to a sense of altruism. Turning ‘negatives’ such as not hugging into a way to support older people in their community, can make them feel more in control and positive.

Looking out for people in our communities

In these times, it’s especially important to reach out to people that may not have strong and robust social networks of their own. Having regular chats means you’ll be able to spot signs that they may be struggling. This could include behaviour that’s out of character, being withdrawn or just seeming out of sorts. If someone is used to chatting to you, they’re more likely to feel comfortable about opening up to you as well.

What to do if someone isn’t okay

By being the person that starts a conversation, you’re letting them know they are supported. Listening and acknowledging how someone is feeling is an important first step. For more tips visit RUOK?

You could suggest they chat to their GP or an online or phone service like Beyond Blue (1300 224 636) and Lifeline (13 11 14)

Access confidential support through Mental Health Navigator

If you have MLC Life Insurance, you and your family can also access the Mental Health Navigator service provided by Best Doctors at no extra charge.

Mental Health Navigator can put you in contact with a network of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health nurses to support you if you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or suffering from an already formally diagnosed mental illness.

Important information

Best Doctors is available to MLC Life Insurance customers as well as their immediate families including children, parents, partner and partner’s parents. For mental health, it is only available if you are 18 years of age or over.

Best Doctors® isn’t insurance (including health insurance) and it doesn’t replace your relationship with your current doctor or medical specialist. MLC Limited reserves the right to withdraw the service at any time or to change the terms on which the service is provided to customers. If your insurance is held within the MLC Super Fund, the Trustee also reserves the right to withdraw the service at any time.

Best Doctors® and the star-in-cross logo are trademarks of Best Doctors®, Inc., in the United States and in other countries, and are used under license.

Mental Health Navigator

Mental Health Navigator connects you to a dedicated mental health nurse and a virtual network of clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, so you can get more information about your diagnosis and treatment plan.

Learn more

Best Doctors

Whatever your physical or mental medical condition, you and your family can access Best Doctors, a global network of medical specialists at no extra cost.

Learn more