How to seek support when dealing with your mental health

On World Mental Health Day, remember to look after yourself and don't hesitate to ask for support when in need.

A person talking to a psychologist and seeking support in dealing with mental health struggles.
Image: Via Pexels - @cottonbro

Each year, October 10 marks World Mental Health Day, a recurrence established with the objective of raising awareness about mental health issues and mobilising efforts to support people in their struggle with their mental and emotional well-being.

Even though it’s true that we’ve come a long way in terms of destigmatising mental health issues, the fact still remains that many people are still reluctant to seek the support they need. Speaking out about mental health is therefore vital, especially after two years of the global Covid-19 pandemic, when mental health issues have been a matter of special concern.

It is estimated that anxiety and depressive disorders rose by more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic. At the same time, mental health services were disrupted by the health restrictions imposed during Covid and as a result, many people weren’t able to access support.

As psychotherapist Mary McHugh put it, “The cumulative effect that the pandemic has had on people is very worrying and it’s not being talked about enough. You can’t ask people to stay at home and isolate for a couple of years and then not support them to readjust into society. We’re social beings, disconnecting us has taken a huge toll, and there’s a very serious lack of accessible supports available to those who need help”.

Seeking help is the number one thing you should consider doing when struggling with mental health. The process of healing can be complicated and exhausting, but if you embark on it with a good and professional support system to have your back, it is more likely to be successful.

Thankfully, for LGBTQ+ folks living in Ireland, there are some amazing organisations that work tirelessly to help and advise people on how to deal with their mental health struggles. If you feel like it’s time to seek support, here is a list for you:

  • Switchboard Ireland is Ireland’s longest-running support service for LGBTQ+ folks. They offer support lines seven days a week and the option to seek help via email or online chat.
  • Belong To Youth Services has recently launched a pair of new therapy services for queer young adults, and the parents of queer children in partnership with psychotherapist Jim Hutton.
  • LGBT Ireland provides the National LGBT Ireland Helpline, a service for queer people who are looking for support or reliable information about mental health.
  • TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) offers a range of support services to Trans people in Ireland and with their Gender Identity Family Support Line, they address even the families who might be in need of guidance.

Moreover, the HSE YourMentalHealth Information Line offers information to anyone who wishes to increase their awareness about the available services for dealing with mental health and your GP should also be able to redirect you to appropriate resources. For folks who can’t access face-to-face counselling due to their location and physical disabilities, psychotherapist Mary McHugh founded, a pioneer service for online therapy in Ireland.

While the most important thing to do when dealing with mental health issues is seek support from professionals, there are also other smaller things you can do to improve your mood, alleviate stress and look after your mental well-being. Read on for some tips.

Research has proven that physical exercise can cause chemical changes in our brains that will improve our mood and can be helpful in alleviating symptoms of depression. If you’re not the type to head to the gym for a full workout, going for a jog or a simple walk can also be extremely beneficial.

Keep a journal
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you understand them with more clarity and give you back some control over your emotions. Journaling every day or even a few times a week can make a huge difference in dealing with negative feelings.

Get out of the house
While feeling the need to isolate is common when dealing with depression or anxiety, getting out of the house and being in contact with other people can help you to get out of a negative headspace and improve your mental well-being. So if you wish to feel better, make efforts to meet with your friends, spend more time with your family or join a club to meet new like-minded people.

Create your wind-down routine
Treating yourself with compassion and care may not come easy (unfortunately), but we have to learn to do it if we want to get better. Having a routine at the end of the day that helps you relax and let go of all the stress that you have accumulated during the day can be the first step to self-care. It can be as easy as watching some episodes on Netflix, reading a good book before bed or having a relaxing nighttime skincare routine.

Whatever you decide to do, remember to look after yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for support when in need.

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