How To Improve Mental Health
Effective Strategies and Techniques
In a world bursting with ceaseless tasks, maintaining excellent mental health might strike as elusive as a mirage in the desert. Yet, fostering a health and wellness regimen is not merely a luxury but an essential priority for savouring a high-quality life. Undeniably, the essence of self-esteem and positivity resides in our minds, therefore caring for its wellbeing holds the ultimate importance. To help manage stress, immerse yourself in exploring effective strategies and relaxation techniques that can provide your mental well-being with an invincible shield even in the unyielding pace of the modern world. Whether you're grappling with tension or battling anxiety, these formidable mental health warriors, advocates for self care, are poised to equip you with potent armour and weapons. Don't merely survive—learn how to thrive when trying to learn how to improve mental health.
There are many strategies that can help improve mental health, including but not limited to, nurturing self esteem through a balance of positive and negative emotions, taking transformative breaks from negative information, instilling gratitude, exercising regularly, ensuring enough sleep, consuming a well-balanced diet and connecting with others for bolstering social support. Developing a sense of meaning in life and honing coping skills are also key elements of self care. Furthermore, meditation, a proven relaxation technique, can help focus attention, reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote relaxation. It is crucial to acknowledge when professional help is needed. Talk therapy and/or medication can treat mental disorders effectively.
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Can therapy be helpful in improving mental wellbeing?
Yes, therapy can be incredibly helpful in working out how to improve mental health. Therapy offers a safe and nonjudgmental space for individuals to explore their emotions, gain coping skills, and develop effective strategies to manage stressors. It provides an opportunity to gain insights into oneself, improve relationships, and ultimately enhance overall mental well-being.
How can exercise benefit health?
Exercise can greatly benefit mental health by releasing endorphins, which are natural mood-boosting chemicals in the brain. Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve cognitive function, and enhance overall well-being. So lace up those sneakers and get moving!
What are some natural ways to improve mental wellness?
Taking care of your mental health doesn't always require medication or therapy. Natural ways to improve mental health include regular exercise, which has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by releasing endorphins and improving overall mood. Additionally, practicing mindfulness and meditation can help reduce stress and enhance well-being. Connecting with nature by spending time outdoors has also been proven to boost mood and reduce symptoms of mental distress. Spending just 20 minutes in nature can significantly lower cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress.
Are there any specific foods or nutrients that can make you feel better mentally?
Absolutely! Certain foods and nutrients have been linked to better mental health. For instance, Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish like salmon and walnuts have been associated with lower rates of depression and improved cognitive function. Additionally, foods rich in antioxidants such as fruits, vegetables, and dark chocolate can help reduce oxidative stress, leading to enhanced mood and cognition. Research also suggests that B vitamins found in whole grains, legumes, and leafy greens play a vital role in brain health. Incorporating these foods into your diet can contribute to improved mental well-being. (Source: "Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses" Jacka et al., 2017; Sathyanarayana Rao et al., 2008)
What are some of the best apps or tools available to support holistic health improvement?
There are several exceptional apps and tools available to support mental health improvement. Calm, for instance, offers guided meditation sessions and sleep aids to reduce stress and anxiety. According to a study by Healthline, regular use of the app reduced symptoms of depression in 68% of participants. Another noteworthy tool is Headspace, offering mindfulness exercises and stress-relief techniques. Many research studies have been published finding that using Headspace significantly increased happiness levels amongst participants. These apps are easily accessible and provide effective strategies for improving mental well-being.
One of my favourite apps is Insight Timer. I particularly love this because you can search for your pain point and it will come up with some helpful solutions. For example, if you are finding it difficult to get back to sleep - type "Get back to sleep" in the search bar and you will be presented with a myriad of guided meditation options of different lengths. It really is one of the most underrated apps I have ever encountered.
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Managing Stress for Overall Mental & Physical Health
In our accelerated and demanding world, managing stress is essential for fostering robust mental health. Stress can manifest in myriad forms - work pressure, relationship conflicts, financial burdens, or even the daily hassles of life. It is imperative to construct effective strategies to navigate and reduce stress levels to improve health and wellness.
One efficient strategy to manage stress is practicing self-care. Regulating your physical, emotional, and spiritual needs can have a profound impact on your overall well-being. Engaging in activities that induce joy and relaxation, such as rejuvenating hobbies, wholesome exercise, or spending tranquil time in the lap of nature, helps counterbalance the adverse effects of stress. Self-care also involves prioritising sleep and maintaining a nutritious diet, as these factors play a dynamic role in managing stress levels.
Another profound technique in how to improve mental health is stress insusceptibility through mindfulness. Mindfulness refers to being entirely present and conscious of the present moment without judgement. By cultivating mindfulness through practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga, we can deflect from stressful thoughts and achieve a state of calmness and clarity. Mindfulness also aids in building resilience to future stressors by educating our minds to respond thoughtfully rather than react impulsively.
Certain individuals may find solace in seeking support from professional therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors. These mental health professionals can provide guidance on specific techniques tailored to one's unique situation or explore underlying aspects contributing to stress. Seeking professional assistance should never be perceived as a sign of weakness but as a forward step towards better well-being. In addition, they might suggest other beneficial interventions like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or medication when necessary.
Remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Hence, personal experimentation is key. Engage in activities that you enjoy and find helpful in reducing stress and improving self-esteem. Incorporate small changes into your daily routine that boost positivity and assess their impact on your mental well-being. Keep in mind that managing stress is an ongoing process, requiring consistent practice and adaptation to suit your unique needs.
Take advice from those who have had a similar experience, and apply their tips to your everyday routine to ensure a smoother experience.
Now that we understand the importance of managing stress for mental health, let's discuss how identifying stressors, creating buffer zones, and leaning on community connections such as friends can contribute to a healthier mindset.
Identifying Stressors and Creating Buffer Zones
To effectively manage stress, it is essential to identify the specific factors contributing to your stress levels. Stressors can be external, such as work deadlines or financial difficulties, or internal, like self-imposed expectations or negative self-talk. Reflecting on your daily experiences and emotions can help pinpoint recurring patterns or triggers that induce stress. It's advisable also to include friends in this journey; their observations and kindness can provide much-needed perspective.
For instance, you might realise that certain social situations drain your energy, or that excessive multitasking leads to increased anxiety. By acknowledging these stressors, it also opens up opportunities to make new friendships, people who empower you to take proactive steps towards managing them effectively.
Once you have identified the stressors, it becomes crucial to create buffer zones. These are designated periods of time dedicated to activities that bring relaxation and rejuvenation. Buffer zones can include anything from taking regular breaks during work hours, setting boundaries in relationships, or allocating specific time slots for hobbies and self-care practices. Be sure to seek advice from a supportive community, share and implement tips that work for you.
It's important to note that creating buffer zones doesn't mean eliminating responsibilities or avoiding challenges altogether. Rather, it is about finding a balance between productivity and rest, allowing yourself moments of respite throughout the day - a process which can be nourished by strong connections and friendships.
Creating buffer zones also involves setting clear boundaries with others. Communicate your needs openly and assertively express when you need time for yourself. Respecting personal boundaries not only helps reduce external stressors but also fosters positive relationships built on mutual understanding and support. The act of kindness within these interactions goes a long way in managing stress and bolstering mental health.
Think of buffer zones as necessary pit stops during a long road trip. Just as you wouldn't drive continuously without breaks, giving yourself moments to recharge and relax is crucial for a smoother journey through stressful situations. Cherish these stops as opportunities to connect with friends, share experiences and bolster your support network with shared kindness and understanding.
Enhancing Mental Well-being Through Lifestyle Changes
Improving mental well-being is a multi-faceted approach that involves making intentional lifestyle changes. By adopting healthy habits, incorporating positive practices into our daily lives, and creating strong connections within our community, we can enhance our mental health and overall well-being. Let's explore some effective strategies and techniques that can help us achieve this.
One key aspect of improving mental well-being is maintaining physical health. Engaging in regular exercise has been shown to have significant mental health benefits. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. Whether it's going for a jog, practicing yoga, or playing a sport you enjoy with friends, physical activity helps reduce stress and anxiety while promoting feelings of happiness and relaxation.
Another vital lifestyle change to consider is achieving optimal sleep patterns. Sleep plays a crucial role in our mental and emotional well-being. A lack of quality sleep can negatively impact our mood, cognitive function, and ability to cope with stress. On the other hand, getting sufficient restful sleep allows the brain to recharge and process emotions effectively. To optimize your sleep schedule, you might take advice from experienced members of your community and utilise their tried-and-true tips.
Let's say you're struggling with your mental health, feeling overwhelmed by constant stress and negative emotions. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine, leaning on the support of friendships, and taking good advice from your connections could be a game-changer.You might start your journey to better mental health by going for a morning walk, following your favorite dance class, or using a stress ball during work breaks. Keep track of how these activities influence your heart rate and overall energy levels. Over time, you'll notice an increase in energy levels, improved mood, and reduced feelings of stress as these exercise practices become a natural part of your life.
Similarly, prioritising adequate sleep can make a world of difference in your mental well-being. Consider adopting healthy sleep habits such as creating a restful environment in your bedroom, establishing a consistent bedtime routine, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine before bed. By committing to these lifestyle changes, you're providing your mind with the necessary resources to recharge and function optimally.
Physical Exercise and Optimal Sleep Patterns
Physical exercise and optimal sleep patterns are two powerful lifestyle changes that can significantly impact mental health. To build a broader understanding and gain confidence in these adjustments, let's delve deeper into each of these aspects, examining crucial health information and addressing potential questions to appreciate their importance and the benefits they offer.
Physical exercise doesn't just strengthen our bodies within a group fitness setting or solitary workout. It also provides a myriad of mental health benefits. Engaging in regular exercise increases the production of endorphins, which are natural mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain. These endorphins help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, while simultaneously promoting a sense of well-being and relaxation.
For instance, suppose you're feeling overwhelmed by work or personal issues, experiencing heightened levels of stress. Taking a break to engage in physical activity like going for a run, working out with a stress ball, or attending a fitness class can be incredibly beneficial. The release of endorphins during exercise can lift your mood, clear your mind, and improve your ability to cope with stressors effectively.
Moving onto optimal sleep patterns, it's crucial to understand that quality sleep is essential for mental well-being. During sleep, the brain processes emotions and experiences from the day, helping us regulate our feelings and maintain emotional balance. On the other hand, insufficient or poor-quality sleep can lead to increased irritability, decreased focus and concentration, and a heightened risk of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Think of physical exercise and optimal sleep patterns as two sides of the same coin when it comes to maintaining mental well-being. Just as exercise strengthens your muscles and cardiovascular system, keeping your heart rate in check, adequate sleep strengthens your neural pathways and supports healthy brain function.
Some may argue that finding time for exercise and establishing consistent sleep patterns is challenging amidst busy schedules or demanding lifestyles. While it may seem daunting at first glance, remember that taking care of your mental health is an investment in your overall well-being. Start by prioritising even small bursts of physical activity throughout the day. For instance, you could take short walks during breaks, play with a stress ball, or opt for the stairs instead of an elevator. Additionally, create a nighttime routine that promotes relaxation and good sleep hygiene, such as dimming lights, avoiding screens before bed, and creating a calm environment.
Mental Stimulation for Health Enhancement
It is essential to engage in activities that promote mental stimulation to enhance our overall mental health. By challenging ourselves intellectually and expanding our cognitive abilities, we can improve our mental well-being with the right resources. There are several effective strategies and techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine to achieve this.
Diving into books and engaging in reading sessions, either individually or as part of a group, is a wonderful way to stimulate the mind. And remember, don't hesitate to ask questions or seek further information if there's something you don't understand. The journey to better mental health is an ongoing learning process. Whether it's a captivating novel, an inspiring self-help book, or informative non-fiction, reading can transport you to different worlds, spark creativity, and broaden your perspective. Reading has an uncanny ability to forge a connection between you and the perspectives of others, eliciting varied moods and altering your behaviours, all while stimulating your nervous system. Make it a habit to set aside time each day dedicated to reading - and witnessing the broad spectrum of human experiences - even if it's just a few pages.
Another powerful method of mental stimulation is to indulge oneself in critical thinking activities such as puzzles and brain teasers, which challenge your problem-solving skills, foster recovery of your memory, enhance concentration, and promote cognitive flexibility. Sudoku, crosswords, chess, and jigsaw puzzles are all popular options worth considering. Not only are they enjoyable pastimes, which can alter your moods and behaviours for the better, but they also provide exercise for the brain.
Furthermore, learning new skills or taking up a hobby can greatly contribute to mental stimulation. Whether it's playing a musical instrument, painting, learning a new language or coding, engaging in these endeavours activates different areas of the brain and promotes neural connections. Even while simply tuning an instrument or holding a paintbrush, every breath feels imbued with purpose. Not only do these activities keep the mind sharp, but they also offer a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment.
One specific aspect of mental stimulation that has gained significant attention in recent years is the practice of meditation. Let's explore how the act of living and breathing our creative hobbies, married with the tranquility derived from practicing meditation, can further help us navigate the labyrinth of our moods and behaviours while significantly enhancing your mental health.
Engaging In Creative Hobbies and Practicing Meditation
Engaging in creative hobbies provides an avenue for all of us to lean into our unique forms of self-expression and allows us to tap into our innately latent creativity. Whether it's painting, writing poetry, playing an instrument, or dancing, these activities not only serve as outlets for our evolving behaviours but can also induce a state of flow where we are wholly absorbed and focused on the present moment. This heightened focus, brought forth by every intentional breath we take, promotes mindfulness, relaxation, and overall mental well-being.
For example, imagine getting lost in the process of painting. As you mix colours, apply brushstrokes to the canvas, and bring your artistic vision to life, feelings of stress and anxiety fade away much like an exhaled breath disappearing into the air. The act of creating art can be cathartic and therapeutic, allowing you to give voice to feelings that otherwise might remain unexpressed.
On the other hand, meditation, much like the rhythmic in-out movement of our breath, is a practice that has been used for centuries to create and maintain a calm and clear mind. The regularity of your inhalations and exhalations reflects the steadiness and repetition required in meditation. By deliberately focusing your attention on the present moment, meditation helps reduce stress, enhance self-awareness, and promote emotional resilience. Regular meditation practice has been linked to improved brain function, increased feelings of well-being, and better control over negative thought patterns.
Integrating both creative hobbies and meditation into your routine can yield powerful results in your mental health's recovery. Engaging in creative activities allows you to channel your emotions into something tangible while practicing meditation cultivates inner peace and clarity of mind.
For instance, you might find solace in playing the guitar after a long day at work or finding calm through daily meditation exercises before starting your day. Both of these practices, much like the cyclical nature of our breathing, become anchors in your life that facilitate self-care, rejuvenate the nervous system, and serve as beacons of stability that contribute to your overall well-being.
Finally, it's crucial to remember that incorporating these breath-focused techniques requires consistency, connection to oneself, and fierce dedication, just like breathing, an unconscious but integral part of our existence. Just as physical exercise yields benefits with regularity, mental stimulation and self-care practices need to be integrated into our routine for maximum effectiveness.
- Engaging in creative hobbies such as painting, dancing, or playing an instrument can promote mindfulness, relaxation, and overall mental well-being by inducing a state of flow where we are fully absorbed and focused on the present moment. Meditation, on the other hand, cultivates inner peace and clarity of mind by reducing stress, increasing self-awareness, and promoting emotional resilience. Integrating both creative hobbies and meditation into our routine can yield powerful results for mental health enhancement. It is essential to remember that consistency and dedication are necessary for maximum effectiveness.
Self-Care Essentials for A Healthy Mind
Taking care of our mental health is crucial in maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life. Self-care plays an integral role in this process, ensuring that we prioritise our well-being and make conscious efforts to nurture our mental state. So, what are some essential self-care practices that can contribute to improving our mental health?
One vital aspect is finding balance between positive and negative emotions. Acknowledging and accepting negative emotions is essential, as repressing them can lead to further distress. However, constantly dwelling on negativity can be detrimental to our mental well-being. It's important to create space for positive emotions as well, whether it's through engaging in activities we enjoy or spending time with loved ones who uplift us.
It's also crucial to take breaks from negative information. In our digital age, access to news and social media platforms can continually bombard us with distressing information. Being mindful about how much time we spend consuming negative news can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Setting boundaries and consciously choosing when and how we engage with such information can greatly promote our mental well-being.
Another effective self-care practice includes cultivating gratitude. Practicing gratitude involves deliberately focusing on the positive aspects of our lives and expressing appreciation for them. It can be as simple as keeping a gratitude journal, where we write down things we're grateful for each day. This practice helps shift our mindset towards positivity and encourages us to see the good even in challenging times.
For instance, imagine having a particularly challenging day at work. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, taking a moment to express gratitude for having supportive colleagues or a fulfilling career can help improve your overall outlook.
Engaging in regular physical exercise is another crucial component of self-care for mental health improvement. Exercise releases endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals, which help reduce stress and boost mood. Whether it's going for a run, practicing yoga, or participating in a team sport, finding an exercise routine that suits your preferences and fits into your schedule can have significant mental health benefits.
Think of self-care as tending to a garden. Just like plants need water, sunlight, and nourishment to thrive, our mental health requires care and attention. Self-care practices are the tools we use to nurture and cultivate our well-being, allowing us to bloom and flourish.
Now that we understand the importance of self-care for mental health, let's explore one specific aspect of self-care in more detail - pursuing a healthy diet and cultivating positive thoughts.
Pursuing A Healthy Diet and Cultivating Positive Thoughts
Our dietary choices play a significant role in our overall well-being, including our mental health. Fuelling our bodies with nutritious foods provides the necessary nutrients for optimal brain function and helps maintain emotional balance. Additionally, consciously cultivating positive thoughts can reshape our mindset and improve our mental outlook.
Adopting a healthy diet can positively impact our mental health in several ways. Consuming a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats provides essential nutrients that support brain health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish improve cognitive function and reduce symptoms of depression.
Incorporating foods like salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, or chia seeds into our diet can be beneficial for both physical and mental well-being.
Furthermore, maintaining stable blood sugar levels through regular meals and avoiding excessive consumption of sugary or processed foods can prevent mood swings and fluctuations in energy levels. Prioritising hydration by drinking enough water throughout the day is also crucial as dehydration can negatively impact cognitive function and mood.
In addition to a healthy diet, cultivating positive thoughts is vital for improving mental health. Our minds have a tendency to focus on negative thoughts. Practicing positive self-talk involves intentionally replacing negative inner dialogue with affirming and encouraging statements. By doing so, we can reframe our perspective and nurture a more optimistic mindset.
When faced with challenging situations, it's important to recognise and challenge negative thoughts. Practicing mindfulness can be helpful in this regard. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment, observing our thoughts non-judgmentally, and letting go of negativity. By honing this skill, we can create space for positive thoughts and cultivate a sense of calmness and clarity.
Harnessing Therapy for Mental Wellbeing Improvement
When it comes to improving mental health, therapy stands as a valuable tool in providing support, guidance, and healing. Therapy offers individuals the opportunity to explore their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in a safe and non-judgmental environment. It can help individuals gain self-awareness, develop coping strategies, and build resilience.
One of the most common forms of therapy is talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy. This form of therapy involves engaging in conversations with a trained mental health professional who can provide insight, validation, and tools to manage challenges. Talk therapy can be an effective way to address a range of concerns, including anxiety disorders, depression, trauma, and relationship issues. Here in Australia we are fortunate to be able to access relatively good health care. A Mental Health Treatment plan can be obtained by visiting your GP. This will entitle you to Medicare rebates for up to 10 appointments with a psychologist.
Another widely used approach is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to mental health difficulties. By learning new ways of thinking and responding to situations, individuals can improve their overall well-being.
For instance, imagine a person struggling with social anxiety. Through CBT sessions with a therapist, they can identify distorted thought patterns such as believing everyone is judging them negatively in social settings. The therapist may guide them in challenging and reframing these thoughts, leading to a reduction in anxiety symptoms and improved social interactions.
Other therapeutic modalities include mindfulness-based therapies, which emphasise being present in the moment without judgement or attachment to thoughts or feelings. These practices can help enhance self-awareness and reduce stress.
Now that we have explored the concept of therapy for mental health improvement, let's delve into different types of therapy and their specific benefits.
Types of Therapy and Their Benefits
The field of therapy encompasses various approaches tailored to different needs and goals. Each type of therapy offers unique techniques and methodologies that can be effective for specific mental health concerns.
Here are a few notable types of therapy and the benefits they provide:
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): Originally developed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder, DBT has proven effective in addressing mood disorders, self-destructive behaviours, and difficulties regulating emotions. It focuses on teaching skills for emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR): Made famous by Prince Harry, this modality is primarily used to alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR incorporates bilateral stimulation techniques while facilitating the reprocessing of traumatic memories. It aims to reduce distress associated with traumatic experiences and promote overall healing.
Family Therapy: Family therapy involves multiple members of a family participating in sessions together. Its primary goal is to improve communication, resolve conflicts, and enhance overall family functioning. It can be beneficial for addressing issues such as substance abuse, eating disorders, or relationship difficulties within the family unit.
Art Therapy: Utilising various art forms, art therapy enables individuals to express themselves creatively when verbal communication feels challenging. This therapeutic approach can help individuals explore emotions, process trauma, increase self-awareness, and enhance overall well-being.
Every individual is unique, and not all types of therapy will be equally effective for everyone. It's essential to work collaboratively with a mental health professional to determine the most suitable therapeutic approach based on your specific needs and goals.
Now that we have explored different types of therapy and their benefits, it's important to recognise that counselling also plays a crucial role in mental health support. Let's dive into the significance of counselling in fostering well-being.
Leveraging Counselling for Support
When it comes to improving mental health, one powerful tool that individuals can leverage is counselling. Counselling provides a safe and confidential space for individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and experiences with a trained professional who specialises in mental health. The support and guidance offered by counsellors can help individuals gain insight into their challenges, develop coping strategies, and work towards positive change.
Counselling offers a range of therapeutic approaches tailored to an individual's specific needs. One common form of counselling is talk therapy, where individuals engage in open conversations with their counsellor. By expressing their feelings and concerns, clients can gain clarity, process difficult emotions, and find healthier ways to manage stress or anxiety.
For instance, imagine someone who is struggling with chronic anxiety. Through counselling sessions, they may learn various techniques such as deep breathing exercises or mindfulness practices to ground themselves during moments of heightened distress. The counsellor may also help identify triggers or thought patterns that contribute to their anxiety and work with them on developing more adaptive ways of thinking.
Additionally, counselling can be beneficial for individuals experiencing depression. During sessions, clients can discuss their emotions and the impact depression has on various aspects of their lives. Together with the counsellor, they can explore factors contributing to their depression (such as past experiences or current stressors) and develop strategies for self-care and managing symptoms.
It's important to note that counselling is not limited to addressing mental health conditions alone. Many people find value in seeking counselling even when they are not experiencing significant distress. Just as we visit the doctor for regular check-ups and preventive care for our physical health, counselling can serve as a way to promote emotional well-being and personal growth.
Counsellors offer support across a broad spectrum of areas including relationships, career development, grief and loss, self-esteem, and more. Regardless of the reason for seeking counselling, clients can benefit from the guidance and expertise of a trained professional who can provide insights, guidance, and non-judgmental support.
In recent years, access to counselling has expanded beyond traditional in-person sessions. The rise of telehealth and online counselling platforms has made mental health support more convenient and accessible than ever before.
If you or a loved one needs mental health support contact Beyond Blue for professional help and guidance.