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Is social media making you unhappy? The answer is not so simple

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-humphries-584274">Melissa Humphries</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lewis-mitchell-266859">Lewis Mitchell</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a></em></p> <p>You may have seen headlines that link social media to sadness and depression. Social media use goes up, happiness goes down. But recent studies suggest those findings might not be so straightforward.</p> <p>Although it is true that people’s feelings of envy and depression are linked to high social media use, there is evidence to suggest social media use may not be <em>causing</em> that relationship. Instead, your mindset may be the biggest thing affecting how social media connects to your wellbeing.</p> <p>People who feel they are able to use social media, rather than social media “using them”, tend to gain more benefits from their online interactions.</p> <h2>Why do people use social media?</h2> <p>Social media covers a broad range of platforms: social networking, discussion forums, bookmarking and sharing content, disseminating news, exchanging media like photos and videos, and microblogging. These appeal to a wide range of users, from individuals of all ages through to massive businesses.</p> <p>For some, social media is a way to connect with people we may not otherwise see. In the United States, 39% of people say they <a href="https://www.americansurveycenter.org/research/the-state-of-american-friendship-change-challenges-and-loss">are friends with people they only interact with online</a>.</p> <p>For older people, this is especially important for increasing feelings of connectedness and wellbeing. Interestingly though, for older people, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563223004545">social media contact with family does not increase happiness</a>. Meanwhile, younger adults report <em>increased</em> happiness when they have more social media contact with family members.</p> <p>Teens, in particular, find social media most useful for <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2022/11/16/connection-creativity-and-drama-teen-life-on-social-media-in-2022/">deepening connections and building their social networks</a>.</p> <p>With social media clearly playing such an important role in society, many researchers have tried to figure out: does it make us happier or not?</p> <h2>Does social media make us happier?</h2> <p>Studies have taken a variety of approaches, including asking people directly through surveys or looking at the content people post and seeing how positive or negative it is.</p> <p>One survey study from 2023 showed that as individuals’ social media use increased, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/372582895_The_Relationship_Between_Social_Media_Addiction_Happiness_and_Life_Satisfaction_in_Adults_Analysis_with_Machine_Learning_Approach">life satisfaction and happiness decreased</a>. Another found that <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0144929X.2023.2286529">less time on social media</a> was related to increases in work satisfaction, work engagement and positive mental health – so improved mental health and motivation at work.</p> <p>Comparing yourself to others on social media is connected to feelings of envy and depression. However, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9955439/">there is evidence</a> to suggest depression is the predictor, rather than the outcome, of both social comparison and envy.</p> <p>All this shows <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jcmc/article/29/1/zmad048/7612379?login=false">the way you <em>feel</em> about social media matters</a>. People who see themselves using social media rather than “being used” by it, tend to gain benefits from social media and not experience the harms.</p> <p>Interviews with young people (15–24 years) using social media suggest that positive mental health among that age group was influenced by <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8933808/">three features</a>:</p> <ul> <li>connection with friends and their global community</li> <li>engagement with social media content</li> <li>the value of social media as an outlet for expression.</li> </ul> <p>There are also studies that look at the emotions expressed by more frequent social media users.</p> <p>The so-called “<a href="https://epjdatascience.springeropen.com/articles/10.1140/epjds/s13688-017-0100-1">happiness paradox</a>” shows that most people think their friends on social media appear happier than themselves. This is a <a href="https://dl.acm.org/doi/10.1145/3110025.3110027">seeming impossibility</a> that arises because of <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/srep04603">the mathematical properties</a> of how friendship networks work on social media.</p> <p>In one of our studies, Twitter content with recorded locations showed residents of cities in the United States that <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/figure?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0064417.g007">tweeted more tended to express less happiness</a>.</p> <p>On the other hand, in Instagram direct messages, happiness has been found to be <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/20563051241229655">four times more prevalent than sadness</a>.</p> <h2>How does internet use in general affect our wellbeing?</h2> <p>Some of the factors associated with decreased mental health are not aligned with social media use alone.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0963721419838244">One recent study</a> shows that the path to decreased wellbeing is, at least partially, connected to digital media use overall (rather than social media use specifically). This can be due to sleep disruption, reduced face-to-face social interaction or physical activity, social comparison, and cyberbullying. None of these exist for social media alone.</p> <p>However, social media platforms are known to be driven by recommendation algorithms that may send us down “rabbit holes” of the same type of (increasingly extreme) content. This can lead to a distorted view of the world and our place in it. The important point here is to maintain a diverse and balanced information diet online.</p> <p>Interestingly, interacting on social media is not the only thing affecting our mental state. <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0090315">Rainfall influnces</a> the emotional content of social media posts of both the user experiencing rain, and parts of their extended network (even if they don’t experience rain!).</p> <p>This suggests that how we feel is influenced by the emotions in the posts we see. The good news is that happy posts are the most influential, with each happy post encouraging close to two additional happy updates from a user’s friends.</p> <p>The secret to online happiness therefore may not be to “delete your account” entirely (which, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-018-0510-5">as we have found</a>, may not even be effective), but to be mindful about what you consume online. And if you feel like social media is starting to use you, it might be time to change it up a bit.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232490/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/melissa-humphries-584274">Melissa Humphries</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lewis-mitchell-266859">Lewis Mitchell</a>, Professor of Data Science, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-adelaide-1119">University of Adelaide</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-social-media-making-you-unhappy-the-answer-is-not-so-simple-232490">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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Do you have a mental illness? Why some people answer ‘yes’, even if they haven’t been diagnosed

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jesse-tse-1429151">Jesse Tse</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-haslam-10182">Nick Haslam</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722"><em>The University of Melbourne</em></a></em></p> <p>Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders have become more prevalent, especially among <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/mental-health/overview/prevalence-and-impact-of-mental-illness#changeovertime">young people</a>. Demand for treatment is surging and prescriptions of some <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35176912/">psychiatric medications</a> have climbed.</p> <p>These upswinging prevalence trends are paralleled by rising public attention to mental illness. Mental health messages saturate traditional and social media. Organisations and governments are developing awareness, prevention and treatment initiatives with growing urgency.</p> <p>The mounting cultural focus on mental health has obvious benefits. It increases awareness, reduces stigma and promotes help-seeking.</p> <p>However, it may also have costs. Critics worry <a href="https://www.bacp.co.uk/bacp-journals/therapy-today/2023/april-2023/the-big-issue/">social media</a> sites are incubating mental illness and that ordinary unhappiness is being pathologised by the overuse of diagnostic concepts and “<a href="https://www.bustle.com/wellness/is-therapy-speak-making-us-selfish">therapy speak</a>”.</p> <p>British psychologist <a href="https://www.psych.ox.ac.uk/team/lucy-foulkes">Lucy Foulkes</a> argues the trends for rising attention and prevalence are linked. Her “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0732118X2300003X">prevalence inflation hypothesis</a>” proposes that increasing awareness of mental illness may lead some people to diagnose themselves inaccurately when they are experiencing relatively mild or transient problems.</p> <p>Foulkes’ hypothesis implies that some people develop overly broad concepts of mental illness. Our research supports this view. In a new study, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666560324000318?via%3Dihub">we show</a> that concepts of mental illness have broadened in recent years – a phenomenon we call “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1047840X.2016.1082418">concept creep</a>” – and that <a href="https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-023-05152-6">people differ</a> in the breadth of their concepts of mental illness.</p> <h2>Why do people self-diagnose mental illnesses?</h2> <p>In our new <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssmmh.2024.100326">study</a>, we examined whether people with broad concepts of mental illness are, in fact, more likely to self-diagnose.</p> <p>We defined self-diagnosis as a person’s belief they have an illness, whether or not they have received the diagnosis from a professional. We assessed people as having a “broad concept of mental illness” if they judged a wide variety of experiences and behaviours to be disorders, including relatively mild conditions.</p> <p>We asked a nationally representative sample of 474 American adults if they believed they had a mental disorder and if they had received a diagnosis from a health professional. We also asked about other possible contributing factors and demographics.</p> <p>Mental illness was common in our sample: 42% reported they had a current self-diagnosed condition, a majority of whom had received it from a health professional.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, the strongest predictor of reporting a diagnosis was experiencing relatively severe distress.</p> <p>The second most important factor after distress was having a broad concept of mental illness. When their levels of distress were the same, people with broad concepts were substantially more likely to report a current diagnosis.</p> <p>The graph below illustrates this effect. It divides the sample by levels of distress and shows the proportion of people at each level who report a current diagnosis. People with broad concepts of mental illness (the highest quarter of the sample) are represented by the dark blue line. People with narrow concepts of mental illness (the lowest quarter of the sample) are represented by the light blue line. People with broad concepts were much more likely to report having a mental illness, especially when their distress was relatively high.</p> <p>People with greater mental health literacy and less stigmatising attitudes were also more likely to report a diagnosis.</p> <p>Two interesting further findings emerged from our study. People who self-diagnosed but had not received a professional diagnosis tended to have broader illness concepts than those who had.</p> <p>In addition, younger and politically progressive people were more likely to report a diagnosis, consistent with some <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666560321000438">previous research</a>, and held broader concepts of mental illness. Their tendency to hold these more expansive concepts partially explained their higher rates of diagnosis.</p> <h2>Why does it matter?</h2> <p>Our findings support the idea that expansive concepts of mental illness promote self-diagnosis and may thereby increase the apparent prevalence of mental ill health. People who have a lower threshold for defining distress as a disorder are more likely to identify themselves as having a mental illness.</p> <p>Our findings do not directly show that people with broad concepts over-diagnose or those with narrow concepts under-diagnose. Nor do they prove that having broad concepts <em>causes</em> self-diagnosis or results in <em>actual</em> increases in mental illness. Nevertheless, the findings raise important concerns.</p> <p>First, they suggest that rising mental health awareness may <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg25934573-900-why-being-more-open-about-mental-health-could-be-making-us-feel-worse/">come at a cost</a>. In addition to boosting mental health literacy it may increase the likelihood of people incorrectly identifying their problems as pathologies.</p> <p>Inappropriate self-diagnosis can have adverse effects. Diagnostic labels may become identity-defining and self-limiting, as people come to believe their problems are enduring, <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032724002489?via%3Dihub">hard-to-control</a> aspects of who they are.</p> <p>Second, unwarranted self-diagnosis may lead people experiencing relatively mild levels of distress to seek help that is unnecessary, inappropriate and ineffective. Recent <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37844607/">Australian research</a> found people with relatively mild distress who received psychotherapy worsened more often than they improved.</p> <p>Third, these effects may be particularly problematic for young people. They are most liable to hold broad concepts of mental illness, in part due to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010440X22000682?via%3Dihub">social media</a> <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10810730.2023.2235563">consumption</a>, and they experience mental ill health at relatively high and rising rates. Whether expansive concepts of illness play a role in the youth mental health crisis remains to be seen.</p> <p>Ongoing cultural shifts are fostering increasingly expansive definitions of mental illness. These shifts are likely to have mixed blessings. By normalising mental illness they may help to remove its stigma. However, by pathologising some forms of everyday distress, they may have an unintended downside.</p> <p>As we wrestle with the mental health crisis, it is crucial we find ways to increase awareness of mental ill health without inadvertently inflating it.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/231687/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jesse-tse-1429151">Jesse Tse</a>, PhD Candidate at Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nick-haslam-10182">Nick Haslam</a>, Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/do-you-have-a-mental-illness-why-some-people-answer-yes-even-if-they-havent-been-diagnosed-231687">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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5 reasons art therapy is great for your mental health as you age

<p><span style="background: white;">We know how important it is to look after our<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/healthy-and-active-ageing"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">physical health</span></strong></a><span style="background: white;"> as we age, but our mental health is equally important. </span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://aifs.gov.au/resources/short-articles/normalising-mental-illness-older-adults-barrier-care"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">Studies have shown</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">that besides the immediate impact on wellbeing, older people with untreated mental ill health are at risk of poorer overall health, increased hospital admissions, and an earlier transition into aged care.</span></p> <p><span style="background: white;">Art therapy is an excellent way to boost our mental wellbeing. In a nutshell, this type of therapy is when visual art, such as drawing, sculpting, or collage, is used in a<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.rtor.org/2018/07/10/benefits-of-art-therapy/"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">therapeutic context</span></strong></a><span style="background: white;">. And don’t be put off if you haven’t picked up a paintbrush since you were a kid. Art therapy is not about creating works of beauty but about the process. It’s a completely </span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://cata.org.au/faqs-myth-busters/#:~:text=The%20focus%20of%20Creative%20Art,%2C%20growth%20and%20self%2Dawareness.&amp;text=Reality%3A%20Creative%20Art%20Therapy%20does,to%20affect%20change%20and%20growth."><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">judgement free zone</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;">!</span></strong></p> <p><strong><span style="background: white;">Emotional release:</span></strong></p> <p><span style="background: white;">Growing up, many of us were never taught that it was okay to express how we’re feeling, especially emotions like anger and sadness. In that way, art therapy can be ideal us older folks who often feel stuck when it comes to expressing ourselves. Art therapy provides the opportunity to express our<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://creativityintherapy.com/2017/06/expressing-emotions-creativity-6-step-art-process/"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">inner experiences</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">in a visual way. Through the act of creation, we can release pent-up feelings, reduce stress, and experience emotional release.</span></p> <p><span style="background: white;">Another challenging emotion that art therapy can help with is grief. As we age, we are more likely to experience the<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.nari.net.au/the-impact-of-prolonged-grief-in-older-people"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">loss of a loved one</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">and we don’t get ‘used to it’. The hole it leaves in our hearts is just as dark. Through<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.vivianpaans.com.au/blog/healing-through-art-how-art-therapy-can-help-with-grief-and-wellbeing"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">creating art</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">we can explore the feelings of grief and sadness in a safe, judgement-free space. It can also foster a sense of self-compassion and when we have more compassion for ourselves, it becomes easier to accept our emotions.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="background: white;">Stress relief:</span></strong></p> <p><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.sane.org/information-and-resources/facts-and-guides/facts-mental-health-issues"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">Anxiety, depression, and past traumas</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">can heavily impact on our daily lives. Risk factors over our lifespans may change but they don’t magically disappear once we hit a certain age. Illness, grief, financial stress, social isolation, and life transitions such as menopause can all be </span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/older-people-and-mental-health"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">contributing factors</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">of poor mental health for older adults. Creating art can ease symptoms as we refocus on what we’re creating and move thoughts away from overthinking and worry.<strong> </strong>Creating art releases </span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.rtor.org/2018/07/10/benefits-of-art-therapy/"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">dopamine</span></strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">,</span></a><span style="background: white;"> the chemical responsible for allowing us to feel pleasure and satisfaction. This further reduces bothersome symptoms of anxiety and depression.</span></p> <p><span style="background: white;">Also, participating in art therapy leads to a more creative brain. A creative brain is better equipped to create stress-relieving techniques for other areas of our lives. Through creating art, we draw the fears that are inside our minds. This takes them out of our heads and places them away from us, helping us feel more in control.</span></p> <p><span style="background: white;">Recovering from<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.interrelate.org.au/news-media/blogs/november-2021/how-art-can-heal-trauma"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">trauma</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> c</span></strong><span style="background: white;">an be a lifelong process for many, and it’s important for someone dealing with it to find tools that will help this process. Art therapy can be one of those as it can give a sense of agency and self-understanding through the ability to express feelings symbolically. This can give </span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://anzacata.org/About-CAT"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">new perspectives</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">of ourselves and our worldview which is essential in the recovery process. It can also help connect with deeply stored emotions and help process them.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="background: white;">Self-discovery:</span></strong></p> <p><span style="background: white;">When we are younger we are often so busy working, socialising, and raising a family many of us never get a chance to take the time out for<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.visionpsychology.com/starting-the-process-of-self-discovery/"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">self-discovery</span></strong></a><span style="background: white;">. Self-discovery is important in our lives as it gives us a clearer sense of purpose and direction in life. In turn, this leads to making better decisions that lead to our overall happiness.</span></p> <p><span style="background: white;">Some of us see our kids leave home and suddenly we’re left wondering, who am I when I don’t have a family to care for? Creating art can help us acknowledge and recognise feelings that have been suppressed in our subconscious. Through learning to use different techniques of art our minds open up to thinking more freely. Self-discovery comes from both the finished product we create as well as the process of making it.</span></p> <p><strong><span style="background: white;">Self-esteem:</span></strong></p> <p><span style="background: white;">As we age, it’s easy to look in the mirror and struggle to recognise the person we see. Our bodies are changing, and it can often feel like society doesn’t value us as much as when we were young. It can be a major shift in the way we view ourselves and lead to poor self-esteem. Art therapy teaches us how to use a variety of media to create something new. We can develop talents and see strengths as we master new materials and see the completion of projects. This sense of accomplishment can be a big leg up to our<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://artbusinessnews.com/2022/01/benefits-of-art-therapy/"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">self-esteem.</span></strong></a></p> <p><strong><span style="background: white;">A sense of community:</span></strong></p> <p><a style="color: blue;" href="https://likefamily.com.au/blog/what-is-loneliness-and-how-does-it-affect-someone/"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">Loneliness</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">is a big contributor to poor mental health.<strong> </strong></span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.psychiatrist.com/news/study-why-older-people-feel-so-lonely/"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">Studies</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;"> </span></strong><span style="background: white;">show two groups of people are most at risk: young adults and older people. With factors at our age such as children leaving home, not working as much or at all, living alone, and chronic illness, it’s easy to see how loneliness can creep into our lives. Group art therapy is a wonderful way to connect with others. We share a space with those who have similar interests, and it gives us a sense of belonging. For those who can't make a session in person due to distance or illness, some therapists offer </span><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.artandplaytherapytraining.com.au/art_therapy"><strong><span style="color: black; background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">online group art therapy</span></strong></a><strong><span style="background: white;">.</span></strong></p> <p><span style="background: white;">You don’t need to see an art therapist to get the mental health benefits of creating art. But the advantage of that is they have the skills to work out what best suits your needs. They’ll also work with you through any tough emotions that may arise from your art therapy.</span></p> <p><span style="background: white;">So maybe it’s time to hide those new coloured pencils from the little ones, crack them open, and enjoy them yourself!</span></p> <p><span style="background: white;">If you’d like to find out more about art therapy sessions, the links below are helpful. They offer online, in person and group sessions.</span></p> <p><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.zevaarttherapy.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">https://www.zevaarttherapy.com/</span></a></p> <p><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.alliedarttherapy.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">https://www.alliedarttherapy.com.au/</span></a></p> <p><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.solacecreativetherapies.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">https://www.solacecreativetherapies.com.au/</span></a><span style="background: white;"> </span></p> <p><a style="color: blue;" href="https://cata.org.au/programs-ndis/online-creative-art-therapy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">https://cata.org.au/programs-ndis/online-creative-art-therapy/</span></a><span style="background: white;"> </span></p> <p><span style="background: white;">And for some more ideas on dabbling in art therapy on your own (or with a friend), check out Shelley Klammer’s amazing resources. She is US-based but has some online workshops that are also amazing:</span></p> <p><a style="color: blue;" href="https://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/expressive-art-resources/100-art-therapy-exercises/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="background: white; text-decoration-line: none;">https://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/expressive-art-resources/100-art-therapy-exercises/</span></a></p> <p><em>Article written by Kylie Carberry</em></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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To tackle gendered violence, we also need to look at drugs, trauma and mental health

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siobhan-odean-1356613">Siobhan O'Dean</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lucinda-grummitt-1531503">Lucinda Grummitt</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steph-kershaw-1466426">Steph Kershaw</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>After several highly publicised alleged murders of women in Australia, the Albanese government this week pledged <a href="https://ministers.pmc.gov.au/gallagher/2024/helping-women-leave-violent-partner-payment">more than A$925 million</a> over five years to address men’s violence towards women. This includes up to $5,000 to support those escaping violent relationships.</p> <p>However, to reduce and prevent gender-based and intimate partner violence we also need to address the root causes and contributors. These include alcohol and other drugs, trauma and mental health issues.</p> <h2>Why is this crucial?</h2> <p>The World Health Organization estimates <a href="https://iris.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665/341604/WHO-SRH-21.6-eng.pdf?sequence=1">30% of women</a> globally have experienced intimate partner violence, gender-based violence or both. In Australia, <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/partner-violence/latest-release#key-statistics">27% of women</a> have experienced intimate partner violence by a co-habiting partner; <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37004184/">almost 40%</a> of Australian children are exposed to domestic violence.</p> <p>By gender-based violence we mean violence or intentionally harmful behaviour directed at someone due to their gender. But intimate partner violence specifically refers to violence and abuse occurring between current (or former) romantic partners. Domestic violence can extend beyond intimate partners, to include other family members.</p> <p>These statistics highlight the urgent need to address not just the aftermath of such violence, but also its roots, including the experiences and behaviours of perpetrators.</p> <h2>What’s the link with mental health, trauma and drugs?</h2> <p>The relationships between mental illness, drug use, traumatic experiences and violence are complex.</p> <p>When we look specifically at the link between mental illness and violence, most people with mental illness will not become violent. But there <a href="https://theconversation.com/bondi-attacker-had-mental-health-issues-but-most-people-with-mental-illness-arent-violent-227868">is evidence</a> people with serious mental illness can be more likely to become violent.</p> <p>The use of alcohol and other drugs also <a href="https://theconversation.com/alcohol-and-drug-use-exacerbate-family-violence-and-can-be-dealt-with-69986">increases the risk</a> of domestic violence, including intimate partner violence.</p> <p>About <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/family-domestic-and-sexual-violence/understanding-fdsv/factors-associated-with-fdsv">one in three</a> intimate partner violence incidents involve alcohol. These are more likely to result in physical injury and hospitalisation. The risk of perpetrating violence is even higher for people with mental ill health who are also <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1525086/">using alcohol or other drugs</a>.</p> <p>It’s also important to consider traumatic experiences. Most people who experience trauma do not commit violent acts, but there are <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(23)00075-0/fulltext">high rates</a> of trauma among people who become violent.</p> <p>For example, experiences of childhood trauma (such as witnessing physical abuse) <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1359178915000828?via%3Dihub">can increase the risk</a> of perpetrating domestic violence as an adult.</p> <p>Early traumatic experiences can affect the brain and body’s <a href="https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0895-4">stress response</a>, leading to heightened fear and perception of threat, and difficulty regulating emotions. This can result in aggressive responses when faced with conflict or stress.</p> <p>This response to stress increases the risk of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9675346/">alcohol and drug problems</a>, developing <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30798897/">PTSD</a> (post-traumatic stress disorder), and <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2015-17349-001">increases the risk</a> of perpetrating intimate partner violence.</p> <h2>How can we address these overlapping issues?</h2> <p>We can reduce intimate partner violence by addressing these overlapping issues and tackling the root causes and contributors.</p> <p>The early intervention and treatment of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-019-0728-z">mental illness</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1541204020939645">trauma</a> (including PTSD), and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2015.06.001">alcohol and other drug use</a>, could help reduce violence. So extra investment for these are needed. We also need more investment to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212657023000508">prevent mental health issues</a>, and preventing alcohol and drug use disorders from developing in the first place.</p> <p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S074937972200023X?via%3Dihub">Preventing trauma</a> from occuring and supporting those exposed is crucial to end what can often become a vicious cycle of intergenerational trauma and violence. <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/070674371105600505">Safe and supportive</a> environments and relationships can protect children against mental health problems or further violence as they grow up and engage in their own intimate relationships.</p> <p>We also need to acknowledge the widespread <a href="https://store.samhsa.gov/product/practical-guide-implementing-trauma-informed-approach/pep23-06-05-005">impact of trauma</a> and its effects on mental health, drug use and violence. This needs to be integrated into policies and practices to reduce re-traumatising individuals.</p> <h2>How about programs for perpetrators?</h2> <p>Most existing standard intervention programs for perpetrators <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1524838018791268">do not consider</a> the links between trauma, mental health and perpetrating intimate partner violence. Such programs tend to have <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/a0012718">little</a> or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2021.101974">mixed effects</a> on the behaviour of perpetrators.</p> <p>But we could improve these programs with a <a href="http://rcfv.archive.royalcommission.vic.gov.au/MediaLibraries/RCFamilyViolence/Reports/RCFV_Full_Report_Interactive.pdf">coordinated approach</a> including treating mental illness, drug use and trauma at the same time.</p> <p>Such “<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014976341930449X?via%3Dihub">multicomponent</a>” programs show promise in meaningfully reducing violent behaviour. However, we need more rigorous and large-scale evaluations of how well they work.</p> <h2>What needs to happen next?</h2> <p>Supporting victim-survivors and improving interventions for perpetrators are both needed. However, intervening once violence has occurred is arguably too late.</p> <p>We need to direct our efforts towards broader, holistic approaches to prevent and reduce intimate partner violence, including addressing the underlying contributors to violence we’ve outlined.</p> <p>We also need to look more widely at preventing intimate partner violence and gendered violence.</p> <p>We need developmentally appropriate <a href="https://theconversation.com/4-things-our-schools-should-do-now-to-help-prevent-gender-based-violence-228993">education and skills-based programs</a> for adolescents to prevent the emergence of unhealthy relationship patterns before they become established.</p> <p>We also need to address the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7278040/">social determinants of health</a> that contribute to violence. This includes improving access to affordable housing, employment opportunities and accessible health-care support and treatment options.</p> <p>All these will be critical if we are to break the cycle of intimate partner violence and improve outcomes for victim-survivors.</p> <hr /> <p><em>The National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.</em></p> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. In an emergency, call 000.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/229182/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/siobhan-odean-1356613">Siobhan O'Dean</a>, Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lucinda-grummitt-1531503">Lucinda Grummitt</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/steph-kershaw-1466426">Steph Kershaw</a>, Research Fellow, The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/to-tackle-gendered-violence-we-also-need-to-look-at-drugs-trauma-and-mental-health-229182">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

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7 things you need to know about fear

<p>Fear is an emotion that can be debilitating and unsettling. But it is a natural part of life and we are hardwired to experience it.</p> <p><strong>1. Fear can protect you</strong></p> <p>Experiencing fear elicits responses from your brain to your limbs. It is the body’s natural way of protecting itself. For our ancestors the fear was often more physical – such as being chased by a lion. Modern fear can range from physical danger (such as a spider or an intruder) or even from perceived danger (such as the worry that something will happen to our partner or child). Feeling fear doesn’t make you a weak person. In fact, not feeling any fear could mean that there are neurological issues present.</p> <p><strong>2. There are many levels of fear</strong></p> <p>Not everything that we fear is intense and paralysing. It can range from low levels of fear (such as worry about being robbed), to medium levels of fear (say if a loved one is in hospital) to high levels of fear (you are being chased by an attacker). Fear can also become stronger when we hear about events such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. It all relates back to how much the scary event will impact our lives.</p> <p><strong>3. Fear is not just instinctive</strong></p> <p>We become fearful due to three main factors: instinct, learning, and teaching. An example of instinctual fear is pain – we learn to be fearful of things that hurt us. Learned fear comes from being exposed to unpleasant or uncomfortable things and wanting to avoid them in the future. For instance, having a relative die in a car crash could make you fearful of driving in the future. Other fears are taught to us by our family, friends and even society. For example, some religions teach us to be fearful of other religions or customs.</p> <p><strong>4. Fear can arise without a real threat of danger</strong></p> <p>Fear can also be imagined, so it can be felt even when there is no danger present. If we feel this all the time it can lead to anxiety and depression. It’s important to think about whether the thing you are fearful of is real or likely to happen before you give it too much airtime.</p> <p><strong>5. Fear produces fear</strong></p> <p>If you are already in a state of fear, your response to more fear is heightened. For instance if you are watching a scary movie, a small noise from the next room could make you jump and scream. Your senses are on red alert, primed to act if the need arises.</p> <p><strong>6. Fear leads to action</strong></p> <p>Depending on the individual and the level of fear they are experiencing, there tend to be four main types of action as a result of fear: freeze, </p> <p>fight, flight, or fright. </p> <p>When you freeze it means you don’t move while you decide what to do (for instance you see a snake in your garden). From there you choose either fight (grab a shovel) or flight mode (walk away). If the fear is too much you might experience fright, where you do nothing and take no action (stand there screaming or worrying).</p> <p><strong>7. Real threats can lead to heroic actions</strong></p> <p>Imagined threats can cause us to live in a permanent state of fear and stress. But often we will do nothing about it (for instance being worried about sharks attacking us in the ocean). Compare this to the threat from a real and identifiable source, which will make you spring into action almost immediately. Often we don’t even make the decision to act, it just happens automatically (such as moving a child out of the way of an approaching car). </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Mind

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Don’t give mum chocolates for Mother’s Day. Take on more housework, share the mental load and advocate for equality instead

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leah-ruppanner-106371">Leah Ruppanner</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>With Mother’s Day right around the corner, many grateful and loving families are thinking about what to give mum to show their appreciation.</p> <p>Should you give her chocolate? Nope. Fancy soaps? Nope. Fuzzy slippers, pyjamas, scented candles? No, no and no.</p> <p>On this Mother’s Day, keep your cash and give your wonderful mother gifts that will actually have a long-term impact on her health and well-being.</p> <h2>1. Do a chore that mum hates and hold onto it … forever</h2> <p>Research <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13545701.2020.1831039">shows</a> men have increased the amount of time spent on housework and childcare and that mothers, over time, are doing less (hooray!).</p> <p>But, women <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2008.00479.x">still do more housework</a> than men, especially when <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gwao.12497?fbclid=IwAR2dp04p2sFqbDqdehXmXgDSfTYwX3GRzP7ScMJhSOrMePTGQVErR2TTX88">kids are in the home</a>.</p> <p>Further, <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0891243205285212">men tend to pick up the more desirable tasks</a>, like <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/3598304">cooking and playing with the kids</a>, leaving mothers to do the less pleasurable chores (think cleaning toilets and clearing out fridges).</p> <p>The chore divide in same-sex relationships is generally found to be more equal, but some critique suggests equality may suffer <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/16/upshot/same-sex-couples-divide-chores-much-more-evenly-until-they-become-parents.html">once kids are involved</a>.</p> <p>This year give your mum (or mums) the gift of equal housework and childcare sharing – start by taking the most-hated tasks and then hold onto them… forever.</p> <p><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gwao.12727">Research</a> shows housework inequality is bad for women’s mental health. Undervaluing women’s housework and unequal sharing of the chores deteriorates <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11199-022-01282-5">relationship quality</a>, and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0038038516674664">leads to divorce</a>.</p> <p>Housework and childcare take up valuable time to keep the family happy, harmonious and thriving, often at the expense of mum’s health and well-being.</p> <p>So, skip the chocolates and show mum love by doing the worst, most drudgerous and constant household chores (hello, cleaning mouldy showers!) and keep doing these… forever.</p> <h2>2. Initiate a mental unload</h2> <p>The <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-09-14/the-mental-load-and-what-to-do-about-it/8942032">mental load</a> is all of the planning, organising and management work necessary to keep the family running.</p> <p>The mental load is often perceived as list making or allocating tasks to family members.</p> <p>But, it’s so much more – it is the <a href="https://theconversation.com/planning-stress-and-worry-put-the-mental-load-on-mothers-will-2022-be-the-year-they-share-the-burden-172599">emotional work</a> that goes with this thinking work.</p> <p>The mental load is the worry work that never ends and can be done <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13668803.2021.2002813">anywhere, anytime and with anyone</a> (in, for example, said mouldy shower).</p> <p>Because the mental load is performed inside our heads, it is invisible. That means we don’t know when we or others are performing this labour unless we really tune in.</p> <p>In fact, it is often when we tune in through quiet time, relaxation or meditation that the mental load rears its ugly head. Suddenly you remind yourself to buy oranges for the weekend soccer game, organise a family movie night and don’t forget to check in on nanna.</p> <p>Women in heterosexual relationships are <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0003122419859007">shown to do more</a> of the mental load with serious consequences for their mental health. But we don’t have a comprehensive measurement of how much women do it nor how it is allocated in same-sex couples.</p> <p>So, on this mothers’ day spend some time talking about, cataloguing, and equalising the family’s mental load.</p> <p>This isn’t just making a list about what has to be done but also understanding <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-09-14/the-mental-load-and-what-to-do-about-it/8942032">how the mental load</a> connects to the emotional health of the family, and the person carrying this <a href="https://www.newamerica.org/better-life-lab/blog/making-the-mental-load-visible/">invisible labour, worry and stress</a>.</p> <h2>3. Speak up for your mum and all caregivers</h2> <p>Families alone cannot bear the brunt of the caregiving necessary to keep us thriving.</p> <p>Governments, workplaces and local communities also play a critical role. For this mothers’ day, pick an issue impacting mothers (for example, equal pay, affordable childcare or paid family leave) and do one thing to help move the needle.</p> <p>Write a letter to your boss, your local MP, or donate money to an advocacy organisation advancing gender equality.</p> <p>Or, role model these behaviours yourself – normalise caregiving as a critical piece of being an effective worker, create policies and practices that support junior staff to care for themselves, their families and their communities and use these policies.</p> <p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0891243216649946">Research</a> shows men want to be equal carers and sharers but often fear what taking time off for caregiving will signal to their employer despite evidence that fathers who request flexible work are perceived more <a href="https://academic.oup.com/sf/article-abstract/94/4/1567/2461609?login=false">favourably</a>.</p> <p>Appearing to be singularly devoted to work was shown to be impossible during the pandemic with kids, spouses, partners, and pets home all day long.</p> <p>Learning to create more care-inclusive workplaces and communities is critical.</p> <p>Paid parental leave, affordable and accessible high-quality childcare, flexibility in how, when and where we work and greater investments in paid sick leave, long-term disability support and aged care are just a few policies that would strengthen the care safety net.</p> <p>We will all be called upon to care at some point in our lives – let’s create the environments that support caregiving for all, not just mum.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/182330/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/leah-ruppanner-106371">Leah Ruppanner</a>, Professor of Sociology and Founding Director of The Future of Work Lab, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/dont-give-mum-chocolates-for-mothers-day-take-on-more-housework-share-the-mental-load-and-advocate-for-equality-instead-182330">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Family & Pets

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Families including someone with mental illness can experience deep despair. They need support

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amanda-cole-1484502">Amanda Cole</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p>In the aftermath of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/bondi-attacker-had-mental-health-issues-but-most-people-with-mental-illness-arent-violent-227868">tragic Bondi knife attack</a>, Joel Cauchi’s parents have <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/video/2024/apr/15/bondi-junction-stabbings-joel-cauchis-father-extremely-sorry-for-victims-video">spoken</a> about their son’s long history of mental illness, having been diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 17. They said they were “devastated and horrified” by their son’s actions. “To you he’s a monster,” said his father. “But to me he was a very sick boy.”</p> <p>Globally, one out of every eight people <a href="https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders">report a mental illness</a>. In Australia, <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health">one in five people experience a mental illness</a> in their lifetime.</p> <p>Mental illness and distress affects not only the person living with the condition, but <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/chronic-conditions-and-multimorbidity">family members and communities</a>. As the prevalence of mental health problems grows, the flow-on effect to family members, including caregivers, and the impact on families as a unit, is also rising.</p> <p>While every family is different, the words of the Cauchis draw attention to how families can experience distress, stress, fear, powerlessness, and still love, despite the challenges and trauma. How can they help a loved one? And who can they turn to for support?</p> <h2>The role of caregivers</h2> <p>Informal caregivers help others <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/informal-carers">within the context of an existing relationship</a>, such as a family member. The care they provide goes beyond the usual expectations or demands of such relationships.</p> <p>Around <a href="https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/informal-carers">2.7 million Australians</a> provide informal care. For almost a third of these the person’s primary medical diagnosis is psychological or psychiatric.</p> <p>It has <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1074840708323598">long been acknowledged</a> that those supporting a family member with ongoing mental illness need support themselves.</p> <p>In the 1980s, interest grew in caregiving dynamics within families of people grappling with mental health issues. Subsequent research recognised <a href="http://www.aihw.gov.au/chronic-diseases/">chronic health conditions</a> not only affect the quality of life and wellbeing of the people experiencing them, but also impose burdens that reverberate within relationships, caregiving roles, and family dynamics over time.</p> <p>Past studies have shown families of those diagnosed with chronic mental illness are increasingly forced to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24943714/">manage their own depression</a>, experience elevated levels of <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23692348/">emotional stress</a>, negative states of mind and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21165597/">decreased overall mental health</a>.</p> <p>Conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can severely impact daily functioning, relationships, and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36875411/">overall quality of life</a>. Living with mental illness is often accompanied by a myriad of challenges. From stigma and discrimination to difficulty accessing adequate health care and support services. Patients and their families navigate a complex and often isolating journey.</p> <h2>The family is a system</h2> <p>The concept of <a href="http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/40336/1/16937_eng.pdf">family health</a> acknowledges the physical and psychological wellbeing of a person is significantly affected by the family.</p> <p>Amid these challenges, <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/journals/psychology/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2024.1330720/full">family support</a> emerges as a beacon of hope. Research consistently demonstrates strong familial relationships and support systems play a pivotal role in mitigating the adverse effects of mental illness. Families provide emotional support, practical assistance, and a sense of belonging that are vital for people struggling with mental illness.</p> <p>My recent <a href="https://www.collegianjournal.com/article/S1322-7696(24)00004-0/fulltext">research</a> highlights the profound impact of mental illness on family dynamics, emphasising the resilience and endurance shown by participants. Families struggling with mental illness often experience heightened emotional fluctuations, with extreme highs and lows. The enduring nature of family caregiving entails both stress and adaptation over an extended period. Stress associated with caregiving and the demands on personal resources and coping mechanisms builds and builds.</p> <p>Yet families I’ve <a href="https://www.collegianjournal.com/article/S1322-7696(24)00004-0/fulltext">interviewed</a> find ways to live “a good life”. They prepare for the peaks and troughs, and show endurance and persistence. They make space for mental illness in their daily lives, describing how it spurs adaptation, acceptance and inner strength within the family unit.</p> <p>When treating a person with mental illness, health practitioners need to consider the entire family’s needs and engage with family members. By fostering open and early dialogue and providing comprehensive support, health-care professionals can empower families to navigate the complexities of mental illness while fostering resilience and hope for the future. Family members <a href="https://www.collegianjournal.com/article/S1322-7696(24)00004-0/fulltext">express stories</a> of an inner struggle, isolation and exhaustion.</p> <h2>Shifting the focus</h2> <p>There is a pressing need for a shift in research priorities, from illness-centered perspectives to a <a href="https://shop.elsevier.com/books/child-youth-and-family-health-strengthening-communities/barnes/978-0-7295-4155-8">strengths-based focus</a> when considering families “managing” mental illness.</p> <p>There is transformative potential in harnessing strengths to respond to challenges posed by mental illnesses, while also <a href="https://www.collegianjournal.com/article/S1322-7696(24)00004-0/fulltext">supporting family members</a>.</p> <p>For people facing mental health challenges, having <a href="https://www.sane.org/information-and-resources/facts-and-guides/families-friends-carers">loved ones who listen without judgement</a> and offer empathy can alleviate feelings of despair. Beyond emotional support, families often serve as crucial caregivers, assisting with <a href="https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/emergency-help/helping-someone-else/">daily tasks, medication management and navigating the health-care system</a>.</p> <p>As the Cauchi family so painfully articulated, providing support for a family member with mental illness is intensely challenging. Research <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4804270/">shows</a> caregiver burnout, financial strain and strained relationships are common.</p> <p>Health-care professionals should prioritise support for family members at an early stage. In Australia, there are various support options available for families living with mental illness. <a href="https://www.carergateway.gov.au/?utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=paid-search&amp;utm_campaign=10626744435&amp;utm_adgroup=102994881737&amp;utm_term=carer%20gateway%20wa&amp;gad_source=1&amp;gclid=EAIaIQobChMIt8T6pJzIhQMVjAyDAx2KiQl1EAAYASAAEgLj-fD_BwE">Carer Gateway</a> provides information, support and access to services. <a href="https://www.headspace.com/?utm_source=google&amp;utm_medium=search&amp;utm_campaign=HS_Headspace_Brand-Exact_Search_AU-INT_Google_NA&amp;utm_content=&amp;utm_term=headspace&amp;gad_source=1&amp;gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4uKKvpzIhQMVFheDAx1bZgk8EAAYASAAEgLy6vD_BwE">Headspace</a> offers mental health services and supports to young people and their families.</p> <p>Beyond these national services, GPs, nurses, nurse practitioners and local community health centres are key to early conversations. Mental health clinics and hospitals often target family involvement in treatment plans.</p> <p>While Australia has made strides in recognising the importance of family support, challenges persist. Access to services can vary based on geographic location and demand, leaving some families under-served or facing long wait times. And the level of funding and resources allocated to family-oriented mental health support often does not align with the demand or complexity of need.</p> <p>In the realm of mental illness, family support serves as a lifeline for people navigating the complexities of their conditions.</p> <hr /> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call <a href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/">Lifeline</a> on 13 11 14.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228007/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amanda-cole-1484502"><em>Amanda Cole</em></a><em>, Lead, Mental Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/edith-cowan-university-720">Edith Cowan University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/families-including-someone-with-mental-illness-can-experience-deep-despair-they-need-support-228007">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Caring

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How to look after your mental health while packing up Mum or Dad’s home

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-penney-1416241">Erika Penney</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alice-norton-1516505">Alice Norton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/avalon-tissue-1515840">Avalon Tissue</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p>So Mum or Dad has died, or moved to aged care, and now you’ve got to pack up their house. It’s a huge job and you’re dreading it.</p> <p>It’s normal to feel grief, loss, guilt, exhaustion or even resentment at being left with this job.</p> <p>So how can you look after your mental health while tackling the task?</p> <h2>It’s OK to feel a lot of feelings</h2> <p>Research has documented how this task can exert an intense <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">physical and emotional toll</a>.</p> <p>This can be more intense for those who had strained – or even <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epub/10.1177/0030222819868107">traumatic</a> – relationships with the person whose house they’re packing up.</p> <p>Decisions around distributing or discarding items can, in some families, bring up painful reminders of the past or end up <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1074840711428451">replaying strained dynamics</a>.</p> <p>Family members who were carers for the deceased may feel exhaustion, overwhelm, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hec.1512?sid=vendor%3Adatabase">burnout</a> or a sense of injustice they must now continue to be responsible for their loved one’s affairs. Grief can be compounded by the practical challenges of deciding how to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">store or discard belongings</a>, <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/30000385">arrange the funeral</a>, execute the will, deal with the aged care place or, in some cases, navigate legal disputes.</p> <p>But packing up the house may also be cathartic or helpful. <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">Research</a> has shown how the task of cleaning out a loved one’s belongings can provide an opportunity for family and friends to talk, share memories, and make sense of what has just happened.</p> <p>It’s also normal to grieve before someone dies. What psychologists call “<a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29206700/">anticipatory</a> grief” can happen to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1615888/">relatives packing up the house</a> of a parent who has moved to aged care or palliative care.</p> <h2>What to do with all this stuff?</h2> <p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">Some</a> treat their loved one’s items with sanctity, holding onto as many of their belongings as possible and creating “shrines” in their honour.</p> <p>Others alleviate the weight of grief by clearing out a loved one’s house as soon as possible, giving away, selling or discarding as much as they can.</p> <p>But if you experience a mix of these – enthusiastically getting rid of some stuff, while desperately wanting to hold onto other things – that’s OK too.</p> <p>One <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253866.2017.1367677">study</a> identified a process punctuated by four key periods:</p> <ol> <li> <p>numbness and overwhelm at the task of packing the house</p> </li> <li> <p>yearning to maintain a link to the loved through their belongings</p> </li> <li> <p>working through grief, anger and guilt regarding the loved one and the task of managing their belongings, and</p> </li> <li> <p>healing and making sense of the relationship with the deceased and their belongings.</p> </li> </ol> <p>However, it is important to note everyone’s approach is different and there is no “right” way to do the clean out, or “right” way to feel.</p> <h2>Caring for your mental health during the clean out</h2> <p>To care for your mental health during these difficult times, you might try to:</p> <ul> <li> <p>make space for your feelings, whether it’s sadness, loss, resentment, anger, relief or all the above. There is no right or wrong way to feel. <a href="https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jscp.2011.30.2.163">Accepting</a> your emotions is healthier than suppressing them</p> </li> <li> <p>share the load. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1999.01220.x">Research</a> has shown practical support from close friends and family can help a lot with grief. Accept help with packing, planning, dealing with removalists, selling or donating items and cleaning. Don’t be afraid to reduce your mental load by delegating tasks to friends, who are likely wondering how they can help</p> </li> <li> <p>take a systematic approach. Break tasks into their smallest component. For example, aim to clean out a drawer instead of an entire bedroom. This can help the mental and physical task feel more manageable</p> </li> <li> <p>reflect on what’s meaningful to you. Some belongings will have <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/0148-2963(94)00054-I">meaning</a>, while others will not. What was valuable to the deceased may not be valuable to you. Things they probably saw as pretty worthless (a handwritten shopping list, an old sewing kit) may be very meaningful to you. Ask yourself whether retaining a small number of meaningful possessions would allow you to maintain a connection with your loved one, or if clearing out the space and discarding the items is what you need</p> </li> <li> <p>share your story. When you feel ready, share your “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15267431.2021.1943399">cleaning out the closet</a>” story with trusted friends and family. Storytelling allows the deceased to live on in memory. <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1365-2648.1999.01220.x">Research</a> also suggests we cope better with bereavement when friends and relatives make time to hear our feelings</p> </li> <li> <p>remember that professional help is available. Just as a solicitor can help with legal disputes, a mental health professional can help you process your feelings.</p> </li> </ul> <p>The home of your loved one is not merely a place where they lived, but a space filled with meaning and stories.</p> <p>Packing up the house of a loved one can be incredibly daunting and challenging, but it can also be an important part of your grieving process.</p> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223956/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/erika-penney-1416241">E<em>rika Penney</em></a><em>, Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alice-norton-1516505">Alice Norton</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/avalon-tissue-1515840">Avalon Tissue</a>, Associate Lecturer in Clinical Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-to-look-after-your-mental-health-while-packing-up-mum-or-dads-home-223956">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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"Pathetic": Council slammed after move against FREE health program

<p>A woman who runs a free mental health yoga program has been ordered to pay the council $10,000 because her classes at St Kilda beach in Melbourne have become too popular. </p> <p>The City of Port Phillip Council was slammed for their actions after they told Eliza Hilmer she must pay them hundreds of dollars  per session for her <em>Feel Good Flows </em>classes.</p> <p>Hilmer, who does not make a profit from the classes, said she started the program during the pandemic to help people manage their mental health. </p> <p>“I play by the rules as much as I can,”  Hilmer told <em>Yahoo News</em>, adding that she acquired personal trainer permit as requested by the council. </p> <p>“We’ve been operating as an outdoor gathering for mental health practices more than anything, and it’s been really incredible." </p> <p>The classes, which initially attracted a few people, has gained a bit of traction with around 50 to 80 regular attendees. </p> <p>Hilmer encourages her attendees to leave a donation and provides free hot drinks and a live musician at the biweekly sessions. </p> <p>Because of its popularity, the council have classified <em>Feel Good Flows </em>as a commercial event, as the classes exceed the number of people covered by Hilmer's personal training license, and she was ordered to pay $400 a session. </p> <p>Hilmer was also given the option to cap the sessions at 15 people a time, but she said that "this isn't an option" as “many vulnerable people” rely on the service.</p> <p>With Hilmer having to pay three months upfront to keep classes running, the total adds up to $10,000, and locals are furious. </p> <p>"Another pathetic decision by useless bureaucrats,” one wrote on social media. </p> <p>“This council is being very mean spirited. Leave her alone!!”</p> <p>“Keep on going love don’t bow to the council,” a third added. </p> <p>Despite the outrage and being asked to pay to host her free yoga sessions, Hilmer remains positive. </p> <p>“I don’t want to fight,” she said.</p> <p>“The council can be the solution”.</p> <p>Port Phillip Mayor Heather Cunsolo replied saying that while she was "delighted" to see so many taking part in yoga sessions, "the business needs to adhere to its Personal Training Licence" to "ensure our popular public spaces remain available, safe and enjoyable for everyone." </p> <p>“We encourage Feel Good Flows to look at hosting additional yoga sessions on the foreshore to support its growing popularity," the <span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Port Phillip </span><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">mayor said. </span></p> <p>“Other businesses operating along the foreshore pay a licence fee for the use of public open space and adhere to the 15 person limit per session.</p> <p>"These capacity limits help provide fair access for many businesses operating with a Personal Training Licence, while minimising any potential disruption for visitors to our foreshore." </p> <p>She added that she has been in contact with  Feel Good Flows, and are happy to discuss details further. </p> <p>"If the petition is sent to Council the matter will be heard in the Council Chamber.”</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

Legal

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"Cringe worthy": Viewers left speechless after star attacks Elmo

<p>Viewers were left shocked after comedian Larry David unexpectedly attacked Elmo during their appearance on the latest episode of the <em>US Today show</em>.</p> <p>The 76-year-old was there to promote the final season of <em>Curb Your Enthusiasm</em>, while Elmo was in the studio alongside his dad Louie to talk about the importance of mental health resources. </p> <p>As the show was transitioning from segment to segment, David walked over to Elmo and smushed his face in before taking a swing at Elmo's dad. </p> <p>The attack caught the show's hosts Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Craig Melvin, off-guard and they began shouting at his ill-timed act. </p> <p>“Oh, my gosh, you love Elmo, don’t you?” Guthrie said to David as an equally shocked Melvin exclaimed, “Oh, my God!”</p> <p>While Elmo didn't seem too bothered by the encounter, the 76-year-old was lectured by muppet dad Louie for his strange act. </p> <p>“Ask permission before you touch people, Larry,” Louie said.</p> <p>“Get back on the couch and let’s talk about how you feel,” Elmo added.</p> <p>Guthrie also called out David's inappropriate act and said: “Larry, you’ve gone too far this time." </p> <p>Although the <em>Seinfeld </em>star was later on forced to apologise to the plush duo and Elmo accepted his apology, the situation left many viewers disgruntled, given the topic matter that Elmo was there to discuss. </p> <p>“Larry David ruined a beautiful story,” one person commented on a video of the segment shared to Instagram. </p> <p>“I felt like I was watching Will Smith all over again. Very sad.”</p> <p>“I must say, I was shocked – it was cringe worthy,” another person wrote. </p> <p>“I love Larry David, but he should have stayed seated until his own segment.”</p> <p>“Although you tried to play it off, Larry David totally messed it up … guess no one told him the theme of the segment” a third shocked viewer added.</p> <p><em>Image: US Today Show/ Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

TV

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"It was a relief": Rebecca Gibney opens up on mental health struggles

<p>Rebecca Gibney has revealed what a "relief" it was to finally open up about the mental health struggles she faced from 14 to 30-years-old. </p> <p>The New Zealand actress, 58, said she spent a lot of that time "pretending" she was okay despite growing up around domestic violence, as her mother suffered from abuse in the hands of Gibney's late father, Austin. </p> <p>In an interview with <em>Stellar</em> on Saturday, the <em>Packed to the Rafters </em>star shared that she is "loving" how mental health is now being framed. </p> <p>“When I started talking about my mental health struggles and anxiety ... it was a relief,” she told the publication. </p> <p>“I could drop the mask of pretending that I was OK. What I’m loving seeing is that more and more people are now going, ‘I’m not OK’”.</p> <p>Gibney first opened up about her struggles in 2017, when she opened up about the abuse her mother faced and how she was “beaten so badly she had bruises for six months on her legs.</p> <p>“She’d always shut the doors ... you’d hear the yelling and the shouting and the slapping, but you’d never actually see it," she told <em>Women's Day</em>, at the time. </p> <p>After Gibney's father died in 1982, the actress began seeing a therapist, but was "on Valium and in a dark place for quite a while”.</p> <p>In her latest interview with <em>Stellar</em>, Gibney also added that more needed to be done to prevent domestic violence and help survivors. </p> <p>“We still don’t want to talk about it. We need to really drill down (and question), ‘Why is this happening?’ We need more education, more centres," she said. </p> <p>“We need people to be able to get the help they need.”</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

Mind

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"I was so scared": Chezzi Denyer's shocking mental health revelation

<p>Chezzi Denyer has opened up about the moment she decided to seek professional help for a debilitating mental health condition. </p> <p>Grant Denyer's wife shared an emotional post on Instagram, marking the 10 year anniversary of the day she made a major change after struggling with post-natal depression and PTSD. </p> <p>In a lengthy caption, she wrote, “Ten years ago, today, I made a very scary step and began professional treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Postnatal Anxiety."</p> <p>“At the time I was unable to articulate what I was feeling, or understand why. For some time I had exhausted myself trying to conceal it.”</p> <p>She said that she felt "scared" to admit she was struggling, out of fear she would be called "crazy". </p> <p>“Scared to sleep most nights because of the night terrors,” she wrote.</p> <p>“The repeated visions of the very things that had scarred me, waking me shaking. I would die graphically in my dreams. Scared to care for my young daughter Sailor at times."</p> <p>“I had never experienced anxiety up to this point so I didn’t know what it was ... but my fear over her becoming unwell or injured left me paralysed at times.”</p> <p>Denyer said that as a seasoned “mask wearer”, she had laughed it off and became used to concealing her mental health battle.</p> <p>“Most people who knew me well had no idea of my personal battle,” she wrote.</p> <p>“While seeking help took me a number of attempts, as many dismissed me at first - my mask was strong - It has become the single most profound thing I have ever done in my life.</p> <p>“My entire world began to change on that day, ten years ago.”</p> <p>After seeking professional help, Chezzi learned the details of her own psychology, and began to forgive herself. </p> <p>“I learnt that I was not the sum of my affliction/ condition, and that there was a path out and to a much better place should I want that, and I did so very very much."</p> <p>“I worked through the pain, and the fear and while sometimes it felt too hard ... I continued to face it."</p> <p>“And today while I quietly smile about how far I’ve come, I wanted to share this quite personal post with you because I know that it will resonate with many people still trying to conceal and wear their masks.”</p> <p>Chezzi’s followers were stunned by the raw honesty of the post, with many thanking her for helping them to feel less alone.</p> <p>“Thank you for sharing so vulnerably,” one follower wrote.</p> <p>“I just know being open about your experience will help others feel less alone and will hopefully help someone to take that first step to ask for help. Thank you. Just thank you.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram</em></p>

Caring

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Dawn French tells all in candid interview

<p>Dawn French spills all in her latest interview with<em> 60 minutes</em>. </p> <p>The beloved British comedian revealed that being imperfect is perfect for her, in a world where unrealistic beauty standards are starting to dominate social  media. </p> <p>"I can't believe that we, especially women, have come this far to hand our daughters a life where they have to do selfies and be filtered to try to look perfect," she told 60 minutes reporter Tara Brown. </p> <p>"I don't know how to connect to all those perfect people. I'm in the anti-perfection league frankly."</p> <p>The comedian revealed that the secret to her happiness is finding joy in the simple things in life, an outlook that she gained following the devastating loss of her father when she was 18.  </p> <p>"I find joy in lots of tiny things. I'm the sort of person who doesn't need to be swimming with dolphins, I find happiness in the simple things," she added. </p> <p>French said that losing her father to suicide at such a young age shaped who she was, and that she was grateful for the love he showed and the lessons he taught her. </p> <p>"Now that I look back on it as an adult, I think he needed to give me some armour, he told me that I should value myself and that I deserved the very best," she said. </p> <p>"As a little chubby girl I could have grown up with all kinds of insecurities, but because of him I have never doubted that I'm not worth something."</p> <p>Her father's struggle with mental health gave her a deeper understanding of the complexity of depression and a greater appreciation for her own emotional stability.</p> <p>"He kept his depression very well hidden, so most of the time dad was very cheerful but he also had these black dog moments where he just couldn't cope," she said.</p> <p>"Then he would get stronger and he would be back on the horse again."</p> <p>"I've had sadness, but I haven't sunk to depths like that. I have worried that it's inherited, but I don't seem to have that, I've got too much to live for I think," she added. </p> <p>The French and Saunders actress is currently enjoying her life in a quaint village in the English countryside with her husband, therapist Mark Bignell.</p> <p>"I've got a love for life, and I love and am loved back by a lot of people, so I can't ask for more than that," she said.</p> <p>You can find the full episode <a href="https://www.9now.com.au/60-minutes" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>. </p> <p><em>Image: 60 minutes</em></p>

TV

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"He was out of control": Inside Bachelorette star's battle with addiction

<p>A close friend of Charlie Newling has come forward about his mate's struggles with mental health issues and addiction after his untimely death. </p> <p>Newling, who appeared on the 2018 season of <em>The Bachelorette</em>, <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/news/news/bachelorette-star-found-dead-at-just-36" target="_blank" rel="noopener">tragically died</a> on Saturday night after his car fell from a cliff in Dover Heights, in Sydney's eastern suburbs. </p> <p>He was just 36 years old, and had recently welcomed his second child. </p> <p>As news of his death broke, a friend of Newlings came forward to share the struggles his mate had endured since his new-found fame on the reality dating show.</p> <p>His friend said the tradie was being swamped by addictions, leading to disturbing behaviour that brought a criminal conviction.</p> <p>Despite being dubbed a fan favourite for most of his time on <em>The Bachelorette</em>, his fan base quickly turned on him for his "controlling" behaviour. </p> <p>As a result, he was unable to cope with the backlash and negative publicity that came with appearing on the show, and turned to drugs as an escape.</p> <p>"Charlie's demon was meth a few years back. Because of it he said his wiring in his brain was screwed," a friend told <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-12507507/Bachelerotte-cliff-plunge-death-Charlie-Newling-booze-meth-fame-Kristal.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Daily Mail Australia</em></a>.</p> <p>"He got off meth in 2020, and he went to Queensland<a id="mol-10e8fde0-5137-11ee-af22-f392a4134fa8" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/queensland/index.html" target="_self"> </a>to escape the drug."</p> <p>While living in Queensland, Charlie met his on-again, off-again partner Kristal Taylor.</p> <p>However, his demons caught up with him when the pair returned to Sydney and began living in Sydney's east in 2021.</p> <p>"They moved in together but he was out of control with drinking and prescription drugs."</p> <p>He then checked into a rehab clinic in 2022, as friends and family witnessed Newling's declining mental health and alarming alcohol abuse in recent years.</p> <p>"His biggest addiction was booze," the friend said. </p> <p>During his periods of addiction, Charlie had a few run ins with the law, and was sentenced to 13 months in prison for threatening to torture and kill his stepfather in a series of 37 text messages he sent to his mother over a three hour period. </p> <p dir="ltr">He was also convicted of a mid-range drink driving offence in 2021.</p> <p dir="ltr">Charlie's death is not being treated as suspicious, and a report is being prepared for the coroner.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Ten</em></p>

Caring

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Jelena Dokic's candid discussion about mental health

<p>Jelena Dokic has opened up about her struggled with mental health issues, being diagnosed with an eating disorder, and the trauma that came with being a young tennis champion. </p> <p>The 40-year-old spoke candidly with <em><a href="https://honey.nine.com.au/latest/jelena-dokic-new-book-fearless-mental-health-recovery-diagnosis/83b5c0b9-4e64-40a9-b3b7-da438485f24f" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9Honey</a></em> ahead of the release of her tell-all book <em>Fearless: Finding the Power to Thrive</em>, which hits the shelves on September 12th. </p> <p>In Jelena's first book <em>Unbreakable</em>, she documented the abuse she endured at the hands of her father and tennis coach Damir Dokic. </p> <p>After the release of <em>Unbreakable</em>, Jelena found strength from other women who came forward to share their stories of abuse. </p> <p>"It's changed my life," she told <em>9Honey</em>.</p> <p>"I say that the day that <em>Unbreakable</em> came out was the best day of my life. It was the beginning of healing for me and basically finding happiness."</p> <p>She shared how her cultural background of being born in Croatia, combined with the secrecy of her career, meant she couldn't speak out about her abuse. </p> <p>"I was taught to be silent, to never say a word, to not speak up and to never talk about those things that go on behind closed doors.</p> <p>"And if you look at a lot of things in this world like abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, mental health, the power of those things is the silence, and that's how the abusers and the perpetrators control the situation."</p> <p>She went on to cite the MeToo movement, and stories of survival from Grace Tame and Simone Biles as reasons to come forward with her own story. </p> <p>"Everything changed once those amazing women spoke up," she says.</p> <p>Since going public with her story of struggling with mental health issues as a result of her abuse, Jelena has been subject to a slew of online hate. </p> <p>As a result of the onslaught and lasting trauma, the former tennis champion was diagnosed with bing-eating disorder, or BED. </p> <p>"I didn't even know originally that I had it," Dokic explains.</p> <p>She says she thought her disordered eating behaviours were "kind of normal" particularly on the professional sports circuit.</p> <p>"It wasn't really until the last couple years where I was dealing with actual trauma from the past and going through a lot of these things where I've discovered 'OK, I've got an eating disorder,'" Dokic says.</p> <p>After losing and regaining 50kgs in the past few years, and being the target of relentless online body shaming, Jelena wanted to speak out about body positivity and those who target different body types. </p> <p>"That's why I wanted to talk about it because again, I think that for a lot of people, it will resonate with them and I think that we need that representation," she said. </p> <p>"It doesn't matter because that should not be that main topic, do you know what I mean?</p> <p>"My kindness and who I am at my core, my IQ, my important values. Not my measurements."</p> <p>Through dealing with lasting trauma, an eating disorder, and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD), all while being in the limelight, Jelena said it is important to be open and honest about your struggles, and not paint the picture of perfectionism. </p> <p>She has learned that being strong "has nothing to do with putting on this perfect front".</p> <p>"There's actually so much strength in being vulnerable," Dokic shares.</p> <p>"That actually takes courage and strength, being vulnerable and being honest and raw and open about everything, especially about your tough moments."</p> <p>"I am very proud of myself where I am now," she says.</p> <p>"And the biggest thing I'm proud of is the fact that there is absolutely no hate, bitterness or frustration from me going towards anyone or anything in life.</p> <p>"I have embraced all the difficult and tough times and just tried to make a positive impact. And I am, yeah, I'm very proud of that."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Instagram </em></p>

Caring

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Not all mental health apps are helpful. Experts explain the risks, and how to choose one wisely

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jeannie-marie-paterson-6367">Jeannie Marie Paterson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-t-van-dam-389879">Nicholas T. Van Dam</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/piers-gooding-207492">Piers Gooding</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p>There are thousands of mental health apps available on the app market, offering services including meditation, mood tracking and counselling, among others. You would think such “health” and “wellbeing” apps – which often present as solutions for conditions such as <a href="https://www.headspace.com/">anxiety</a> and <a href="https://www.calm.com">sleeplessness</a> – would have been rigorously tested and verified. But this isn’t necessarily the case.</p> <p>In fact, many may be taking your money and data in return for a service that does nothing for your mental health – at least, not in a way that’s backed by scientific evidence.</p> <h2>Bringing AI to mental health apps</h2> <p>Although some mental health apps connect users with a <a href="https://www.betterhelp.com/get-started/?go=true&amp;utm_source=AdWords&amp;utm_medium=Search_PPC_c&amp;utm_term=betterhelp+australia_e&amp;utm_content=133525856790&amp;network=g&amp;placement=&amp;target=&amp;matchtype=e&amp;utm_campaign=15228709182&amp;ad_type=text&amp;adposition=&amp;kwd_id=kwd-401317619253&amp;gclid=Cj0KCQjwoeemBhCfARIsADR2QCtfZHNw8mqpBe7cLfLtZBD-JZ5xvAmDCfol8npbAAH3ALJGYvpngtoaAtFlEALw_wcB¬_found=1&amp;gor=start">registered therapist</a>, most provide a fully automated service that bypasses the human element. This means they’re not subject to the same standards of care and confidentiality as a registered mental health professional. Some aren’t even designed by mental health professionals.</p> <p>These apps also increasingly claim to be incorporating artificial intelligence into their design to make personalised recommendations (such as for meditation or mindfulness) to users. However, they give little detail about this process. It’s possible the recommendations are based on a user’s previous activities, similar to Netflix’s <a href="https://help.netflix.com/en/node/100639">recommendation algorithm</a>.</p> <p>Some apps such as <a href="https://legal.wysa.io/privacy-policy#aiChatbot">Wysa</a>, <a href="https://www.youper.ai/">Youper</a> and <a href="https://woebothealth.com/">Woebot</a> use AI-driven chatbots to deliver support, or even established therapeutic interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy. But these apps usually don’t reveal what kinds of algorithms they use.</p> <p>It’s likely most of these AI chatbots use <a href="https://www.techtarget.com/searchenterpriseai/feature/How-to-choose-between-a-rules-based-vs-machine-learning-system">rules-based systems</a> that respond to users in accordance with predetermined rules (rather than learning on the go as adaptive models do). These rules would ideally prevent the unexpected (and often <a href="https://www.vice.com/en/article/pkadgm/man-dies-by-suicide-after-talking-with-ai-chatbot-widow-says">harmful and inappropriate</a>) outputs AI chatbots have become known for – but there’s no guarantee.</p> <p>The use of AI in this context comes with risks of biased, discriminatory or completely inapplicable information being provided to users. And these risks haven’t been adequately investigated.</p> <h2>Misleading marketing and a lack of supporting evidence</h2> <p>Mental health apps might be able to provide certain benefits to users <em>if</em> they are well designed and properly vetted and deployed. But even then they can’t be considered a substitute for professional therapy targeted towards conditions such as anxiety or depression.</p> <p>The <a href="https://theconversation.com/pixels-are-not-people-mental-health-apps-are-increasingly-popular-but-human-connection-is-still-key-192247">clinical value</a> of automated mental health and mindfulness apps is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1077722918300233?casa_token=lwm1E6FhcG0AAAAA:saV7szbZl4DqbvmZiomLG9yMWi_4-zbmy3QCtQzVEQr957QX1E7Aiqkm5BcEntR0mVFgfDVo">still being assessed</a>. Evidence of their efficacy is generally <a href="https://journals.plos.org/digitalhealth/article?id=10.1371/journal.pdig.0000002">lacking</a>.</p> <p>Some apps make ambitious claims regarding their effectiveness and refer to studies that supposedly support their benefits. In many cases these claims are based on less-than-robust findings. For instance, they may be based on:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://sensa.health/">user testimonials</a></li> <li>short-term studies with narrow <a href="https://www.wired.co.uk/article/mental-health-chatbots">or homogeneous cohorts</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9533203/">studies involving</a> researchers or funding from the very group <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/apr/13/chatbots-robot-therapists-youth-mental-health-crisis">promoting the app</a></li> <li>or evidence of the benefits of a <a href="https://www.headspace.com/meditation/anxiety">practice delivered face to face</a> (rather than via an app).</li> </ul> <p>Moreover, any claims about reducing symptoms of poor mental health aren’t carried through in contract terms. The fine print will typically state the app does not claim to provide any physical, therapeutic or medical benefit (along with a host of other disclaimers). In other words, it isn’t obliged to successfully provide the service it promotes.</p> <p>For some users, mental health apps may even cause harm, and lead to increases in the very <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34074221/">symptoms</a> people so often use them to address. The may happen, in part, as a result of creating more awareness of problems, without providing the tools needed to address them.</p> <p>In the case of most mental health apps, research on their effectiveness won’t have considered <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9505389/">individual differences</a> such as socioeconomic status, age and other factors that can influence engagement. Most apps also will not indicate whether they’re an inclusive space for marginalised people, such as those from culturally and linguistically diverse, LGBTQ+ or neurodiverse communities.</p> <h2>Inadequate privacy protections</h2> <p>Mental health apps are subject to standard consumer protection and privacy laws. While data protection and <a href="https://cybersecuritycrc.org.au/sites/default/files/2021-07/2915_cscrc_casestudies_mentalhealthapps_1.pdf">cybersecurity</a> practices vary between apps, an investigation by research foundation Mozilla <a href="https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/articles/are-mental-health-apps-better-or-worse-at-privacy-in-2023">concluded that</a> most rank poorly.</p> <p>For example, the mindfulness app <a href="https://www.headspace.com/privacy-policy">Headspace</a> collects data about users from a <a href="https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/headspace/">range of sources</a>, and uses those data to advertise to users. Chatbot-based apps also commonly repurpose conversations to predict <a href="https://legal.wysa.io/privacy-policy">users’ moods</a>, and use anonymised user data to train the language models <a href="https://www.youper.ai/policy/privacy-policy">underpinning the bots</a>.</p> <p>Many apps share so-called <a href="https://theconversation.com/popular-fertility-apps-are-engaging-in-widespread-misuse-of-data-including-on-sex-periods-and-pregnancy-202127">anonymised</a> data with <a href="https://www.wysa.com/">third parties</a>, such as <a href="https://www.headspace.com/privacy-policy">employers</a>, that sponsor their use. Re-identification of <a href="https://www.unimelb.edu.au/newsroom/news/2017/december/research-reveals-de-identified-patient-data-can-be-re-identified">these data</a> can be relatively easy in some cases.</p> <p>Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) doesn’t require most mental health and wellbeing apps to go through the same testing and monitoring as other medical products. In most cases, they are lightly regulated as <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/how-we-regulate/manufacturing/medical-devices/manufacturer-guidance-specific-types-medical-devices/regulation-software-based-medical-devices">health and lifestyle</a> products or tools for <a href="https://www.tga.gov.au/sites/default/files/digital-mental-health-software-based-medical-devices.pdf">managing mental health</a> that are excluded from TGA regulations (provided they meet certain criteria).</p> <h2>How can you choose an app?</h2> <p>Although consumers can access third-party rankings for various mental health apps, these often focus on just a few elements, such as <a href="https://onemindpsyberguide.org/apps/">usability</a> or <a href="https://foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded/categories/mental-health-apps/">privacy</a>. Different guides may also be inconsistent with each other.</p> <p>Nonetheless, there are some steps you can take to figure out whether a particular mental health or mindfulness app might be useful for you.</p> <ol> <li> <p>consult your doctor, as they may have a better understanding of the efficacy of particular apps and/or how they might benefit you as an individual</p> </li> <li> <p>check whether a mental health professional or trusted institution was involved in developing the app</p> </li> <li> <p>check if the app has been rated by a third party, and compare different ratings</p> </li> <li> <p>make use of free trials, but be careful of them shifting to paid subscriptions, and be wary about trials that require payment information upfront</p> </li> <li> <p>stop using the app if you experience any adverse effects.</p> </li> </ol> <p>Overall, and most importantly, remember that an app is never a substitute for real help from a human professional.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211513/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jeannie-marie-paterson-6367">Jeannie Marie Paterson</a>, Professor of Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-t-van-dam-389879">Nicholas T. Van Dam</a>, Associate Professor, School of Psychological Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/piers-gooding-207492">Piers Gooding</a>, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Disability Research Initiative, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-melbourne-722">The University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/not-all-mental-health-apps-are-helpful-experts-explain-the-risks-and-how-to-choose-one-wisely-211513">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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Tracking the shift in meanings of ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ over time

<div class="copy"> <p>The mental health terms ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ have become increasingly pathologised since the 1970s, according to analysis by Australian researchers of more than a million academic and general text sources. </p> <p><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0288027" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">Publishing</a> in PLOS ONE, psychology and computer science researchers from the University of Melbourne tracked the frequency and meaning of the concepts ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ from 1970 to 2018, and words that occurred in their vicinity.</p> <p>Using natural language processing, the team analysed more than 630 million words across 871,340 academic psychology papers, as well as 400,000 texts from general sources such as magazines, newspapers and non-fiction books.</p> <p>Paper co-author psychologist Professor Nicholas Haslam has a long standing interest in how mental health terms change their meanings over time, particularly the way harm-related words like bullying, abuse and trauma tend to expand over time, incorporating new, and often less severe kinds of experiences.</p> <p>Haslam says that trend reflects progressive social change and a rising sensitivity to harm and suffering in our culture. “We emphasize [that’s] mostly a good thing,” he says.</p> <p><iframe title="The Emoji Squad: The Mysterious Group Behind the Little Icons We Love 🤝" src="https://omny.fm/shows/huh-science-explained/the-emoji-squad-the-mysterious-group-behind-the-li/embed?in_playlist=podcast&amp;style=Cover" width="100%" height="180" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>The terms ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ were selected for analysis as prevalent, prominent mental health concepts.</p> <p>The researchers expected the emotional intensity and severity of the two terms to reduce over time as the frequency of their use increased.</p> <p>That expectation was informed by previous research using a similar approach, co-authored by Haslam and <a href="https://sciendo.com/article/10.58734/plc-2023-0002" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">publishing in</a> Sciendo, where increasing use of the word ‘trauma’ since the 1970s was associated with a shift in meaning including a broadening of use and declining severity.</p> <p>They hypothesised a similar trend for ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’.</p> <p>“Well, we didn’t find what we expected,” Haslam says.</p> <p>Contrary to expectation, the emotional severity associated with anxiety and depression increased linearly over time. </p> <p>The authors say this is possibly due to growing pathologising of the terms, given their analysis shows use of the words increasingly linked to clinical concepts. </p> <p>In particular, the terms ‘disorder’ and ‘symptom’ have become more commonly associated with ‘anxiety’ and ‘depression’ in more recent decades, the paper says, finding similar patterns in both the academic and general texts. </p> <p>Anxiety and depression were also increasingly used together, compared to use in the ‘70s where the terms were more likely to refer to separate things.</p> <p>Haslam says, these shifts in meaning could reflect growing awareness of mental health in society and more research is needed into the implications, he says. </p> <p>But he notes this is an area where there can be “mixed blessings”.</p> <p>On the one hand, greater awareness of anxiety and depression can help people to seek appropriate treatment; and on the other, pathologising more ordinary variations in mood can risk become self-fulfilling or self-defeating.</p> <p>At a more systemic level, pathologising the milder end of the mental health spectrum could risk leading to a misallocation of resources away from the more severe and urgent mental health problems, Haslam says.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/social-sciences/tracking-the-shift-in-meanings-of-anxiety-and-depression-over-time/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/petra-stock">Petra Stock</a>. </em></p> </div>

Mind

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Hallucinations in the movies tend to be about chaos, violence and mental distress. But they can be positive too

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/christopher-patterson-308185">Christopher Patterson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-procter-147517">Nicholas Procter</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180"><em>University of South Australia</em></a></em></p> <p>Hallucinations are often depicted in the movies as terrifying experiences. Think Jake Gyllenhaal seeing a monstrous rabbit in <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0246578/">Donnie Darko</a></em>, Leonardo DiCaprio experiencing the torture of <em><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/reel-therapy/201002/shutter-island-separating-fact-fiction">Shutter Island</a></em>, Natalie Portman in <em><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0947798/">Black Swan</a></em>, or Joaquin Phoenix as the <em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/oct/21/joker-mental-illness-joaquin-phoenix-dangerous-misinformed">Joker</a></em>.</p> <p>Each character experiences some form of psychological distress. Scenes connect to, or even explain, a decline into chaos and violence.</p> <p>Experiencing hallucinations can be distressing for some people and their loved ones. However, focusing solely on such depictions perpetuates myths and misconceptions about hallucinations. They also potentially perpetuate harmful stereotypes of mental distress.</p> <p>Movies such as Joker use a broad, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/oct/21/joker-mental-illness-joaquin-phoenix-dangerous-misinformed">arguably incorrect</a>, brush to connect hallucinations, mental health issues and violence. This reinforces the misconception that hallucinations always indicate mental health issues, when this is not necessarily true.</p> <h2>What are hallucinations?</h2> <p>Hallucinations are perceptions that occur without a corresponding external stimulus. They can involve any of the human senses.</p> <p>Auditory hallucinations involve hearing things that aren’t there, such as voices or sounds. Visual hallucinations involve seeing things that aren’t there, such as lights, objects or people. Tactile hallucinations involve feeling things that aren’t there, such as a sensation of something crawling on your skin. Gustatory hallucinations involve taste and smell.</p> <p>People often confuse hallucinations and delusions. The two can be related, but they are not the same thing. Delusions are false beliefs, firmly held by a person despite evidence to the contrary. A person might believe someone is following them (a delusion), and see and hear that figure (a hallucination).</p> <p>Before the 17th century, hallucinations were commonly thought to be of <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00991/full">cultural and religious</a> significance.</p> <p>However, between the mid-1600s and 1700s, hallucinations began to be understood as medical concerns, related to both mental and physical illnesses. This medical lens of hallucination remains. Now we know which <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2702442/">parts of the brain</a> are activated when someone has a hallucination.</p> <h2>What causes hallucinations?</h2> <p>Hallucinations can be a sign of serious mental health issues. The presence or experience of hallucinations is, for example, one of the criteria used to <a href="https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Psychiatrists/Practice/DSM/APA_DSM-5-Schizophrenia.pdf">diagnose schizophrenia</a> (delusions are another).</p> <p>Hallucinations may also provide insight into mental health issues such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.</p> <p>However, hallucinations can also be linked to other medical conditions.</p> <p>Hallucinations can be caused by fever, as well as disease or damage impacting the brain or <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-is-charles-bonnet-syndrome-the-eye-condition-that-causes-hallucinations-122322">optic nerves</a>. Parkinson’s disease causes visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7116251/">in up to 75% of people</a>. Epilepsy and migraine headaches are also linked to hallucinations, and can cause perceptual disturbances, sometimes for days. Substance use, particularly of <a href="https://theconversation.com/weekly-dose-ayahuasca-a-cautionary-tale-for-tourists-eager-to-try-this-shamanic-brew-73953">hallucinogenic drugs</a> such as LSD or ketamine, can also cause hallucinations.</p> <p>Hallucinations can also occur in people without any underlying medical conditions. For example, some people may experience hallucinations during times of <a href="https://academic.oup.com/schizophreniabulletin/article/46/6/1367/5939754">extreme distress or grief</a>.</p> <p>Environmental factors such as <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00303/full">sleep deprivation</a> can cause a range of perceptual disturbances, including visual and auditory hallucinations. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354964/">Sensory deprivation</a>, such as being placed in a soundproof room, can also cause hallucinations.</p> <p>But still, the common image that hallucinations are connected only to mental health issues persists.</p> <h2>Hallucinations can be frightening, but not always</h2> <p>Hallucinations can be frightening for people, and their families. And the <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0020764016675888">stigma</a> and misconceptions surrounding hallucinations can have a significant impact on someone who experiences them.</p> <p>People who have hallucinations may be afraid or embarrassed of being considered “bizarre” or “unsafe”, and therefore may avoid seeking help.</p> <p>But hallucinations are <a href="https://www.intervoiceonline.org/voices-visions/voices-as-a-gift">not always scary or disturbing</a>. Some hallucinations can be neutral or even pleasant. People have been sharing on social media their positive and empowering experience of hallucinations. In the example below, we see one person’s positive experience of hearing voices. Yet we rarely see such depictions of hallucinations in the movies.</p> <hr /> <p><iframe id="tc-infographic-853" class="tc-infographic" style="border: none;" src="https://cdn.theconversation.com/infographics/853/9f702c4fefadeb810f9d64d7b4512b39a655a262/site/index.html" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <hr /> <h2>How to support someone having hallucinations</h2> <p>If you are with someone who is having hallucinations, particularly if these are new or distressing for them, here are several ways you can support them:</p> <ul> <li> <p>ask the person if they want to talk about what they are experiencing and listen to them without judgment: “I cannot hear what you are hearing, can you tell me about it?”</p> </li> <li> <p><a href="https://tuneinnotout.com/videos/r-u-ok-ask-experts-nicholas-procter/">listen</a>. Don’t argue or blame. Acknowledge that hallucinations are real to the person, even if they are seemingly unusual and not based in reality: “I cannot see what you see, but I do understand you see it.”</p> </li> <li> <p>empathise with how the person feels about their experiences. “I cannot feel or taste it, but I can imagine it would be a difficult experience. I can see how much it is concerning you.”</p> </li> <li> <p>support someone to seek care. Persistent or distressing hallucinations should always be evaluated by a qualified health professional. Establishing potential causes is important: “I cannot hear it like you, but let’s talk to a health professional about it. They can help us understand what might be happening.”</p> </li> <li> <p>encourage the person to <a href="https://www.intervoiceonline.org/national-networks#content">reach out to their peers</a> as well as to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01612840.2023.2189953?src=recsys">hearing voices groups</a> for ongoing support.</p> </li> </ul> <p><em>We’d like to acknowledge <a href="https://www.nswmentalhealthcommission.com.au/staff-profile/tim-heffernan">Tim Heffernan</a>, Deputy Commissioner of the Mental Health Commission of New South Wales, who contributed to this article.</em></p> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. <!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/christopher-patterson-308185">Christopher Patterson</a>, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/nicholas-procter-147517">Nicholas Procter</a>, Professor and Chair: Mental Health Nursing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-south-australia-1180">University of South Australia</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/hallucinations-in-the-movies-tend-to-be-about-chaos-violence-and-mental-distress-but-they-can-be-positive-too-204547">original article</a>.</em></p>

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How to beat the retirement blues

<p>When people plan their retirement they don’t usually expect Post retiring depression (PRD). This kind of depression usually stems from dashed expectations, financial trouble or feeling lost and lonely. That’s why we’ve got four top tips to avoid PRD and enjoy your free time.</p> <p><strong>1. Plan it out</strong></p> <p>Know what you want to do, not what you think you should be doing. Don’t hold back in indulging yourself, travelling the world, volunteering abroad – the temporary discomfort of not knowing is better than realising when it’s too late that you never completed your bucket list.</p> <p><strong>2. Routine</strong></p> <p>A sudden lack of structure can become exhausting or at least unsettling. Schedule activities such as exercise, housework, errands, and social time. Then let the day flow from there.</p> <p><strong>3. Keep active</strong></p> <p>There is a lot of research to show that the people who cope best with retirement are those who stay active and involved. This might include:</p> <ul> <li>Developing an old hobby or starting a new one. </li> <li>Staying physically active, through walking, swimming, gym or sport. Make sure your exercise routine is appropriate for your physical capacities and limitations. </li> <li>Volunteering with a charity or church group. </li> <li>Working part-time. </li> <li>Studying a course.</li> </ul> <p><strong>4. Stay in touch</strong></p> <p>Loneliness and isolation can be easily avoided, so don’t fall into the trap of feeling alone. Make the effort to stay in contact with family and friends. Offer to babysit your grandchildren. Check out local community centres for upcoming activities you might enjoy. Even if you're not sure try something new, you might surprise yourself!</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Retirement Life

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Why young people are self-diagnosing illnesses

<p dir="ltr">A lot of people turn to Google when they get symptoms of being sick, and jump to the conclusion that it may be a serious issue, however, for the younger crowd - Dr Google is now Dr TikTok. </p> <p dir="ltr">The social media app is filled with content about all sorts of topics, known for its 15-second clips it has been applauded for starting important conversations about mental health, especially among young people. It allows people to share experiences and support each other.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, as beneficial as that may be, it’s causing a lot of children to self-diagnose themselves with several mental and neurological disorders. These conditions include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), dissociative identity disorder (DID), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette’s syndrome, and more.</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s troublesome as a doctor must diagnose a patient with an illness, and kids are taking it into their own hands based on videos that resonate with them.</p> <p dir="ltr">Psychologist Doreen Dodgen-Magee, said, “There are many accounts, hosted by educated, trained, and licensed professionals where reliable information can be found,” says Dr. Dodgen-Magee. But not all posts contain accurate, science-backed information — and many people scrolling through TikTok don’t know this”.</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s an issue that continues to grow as young people are getting medical advice from fellow TikTokers rather than seeing a doctor. </p> <p dir="ltr">If you have any symptoms of poor physical or mental health then you must be professionally diagnosed and set up with a treatment plan. Don’t rely on a social media app targeted towards children to diagnose you with health issues.</p> <p dir="ltr">Image credit: Shutterstock</p>

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