Have a mental health plan in place

If you struggle with your mental health, have a plan in place to combat Christmas stress -it could be as simple as a cuddle with your cat. Photo: Jeffrey Buchbinder /Unsplash

New Beyond Blue data reveals one in five people’s mental health is being extremely impacted by the rising cost of living.

A new community survey commissioned by Beyond Blue found financial pressures are the number one stressor for people as we head towards the end of the year.

The survey found:

• The overwhelming majority (77 per cent) say they feel stressed heading into the end of the year – almost a third feel “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressed.

• 83 per cent report the rising cost of living is negatively impacting their mental health, with one in five respondents reporting that impact is extreme.

• People aged 18 – 49 were more likely to report the cost of living was having a negative impact on their mental health.

• Almost a third of all respondents say they are unlikely to put a plan in place to manage their mental health.

Beyond Blue’s Clinical Spokesperson Dr Grant Blashki said Beyond Blue was prepared for an increase in demand for its support service during December.

“Last December, we saw a 41 per cent increase on the monthly average in contacts to the Beyond Blue Support Service, and we expect the same, if not more, this year,” Dr Blashki said.

“It’s been a tough year as people grapple with cost-of-living pressures, high inflation, continual rate rises, and economic uncertainty.

“As the holiday season approaches, financial stress is having a significant impact on people’s mental health, it’s a time of great reflection, loneliness for some, and impossible financial expectations for others, such as buying presents or travelling to see family.

“Family events can also be a mixed blessing, beautiful celebration for some and a source of great stress and even conflict for others.”

Barefoot Investor Scott Pape spoke at a webinar presented by Beyond Blue to discuss ways people can manage their current financial stress.

“The gift I want people to give themselves this Christmas is to have a sense of confidence and control around their money,” Mr Pape said.

“You achieve that by tuning out of the financial doom and gloom, and tuning into the things you can control, and those small steps are what builds your confidence.”

Dr Blashki shared that their latest survey showed that less than a third of people are unlikely to put a plan in place to manage their mental health and wellbeing when things get stressful.

“What science tells us about looking after your wellbeing is that small regular actions, such as exercise or meditation, can be very effective,” he said.

“Getting into these good daily habits gradually improves your mental wellbeing, adds up over time and is more effective than trying to make one big dramatic change that is often unsustainable.

“We have developed a new Wellbeing Action Tool to help people identify ways that work for them.”

Beyond Blue’s free Wellbeing Action Tool is available online: www.beyondblue.org.au/mental-health/wellbeing/action-tool