Fraser Coast Chronicle - - WEEKEND - MIND YOU WORDS: ROWENA HARDY Rowena Hardy is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, per­for­mance coach and part­ner of Minds Aligned: mind­

What do you do to look af­ter your health and over­all well­be­ing? Are you some­one who is gen­er­ally ac­tive and takes part in reg­u­lar ex­er­cise, eats well and looks af­ter them­selves?

Many of us may pay at­ten­tion to our phys­i­cal health – but how much do you do for your men­tal health?

When we talk about men­tal health we are re­ally de­scrib­ing our psy­cho­log­i­cal and emo­tional well­be­ing and how well we are cop­ing in life; our abil­ity to ride the reg­u­lar ups and downs and chal­lenges that we all ex­pe­ri­ence along the way.

My choice of topic is partly be­cause it has been Men­tal Health Week in Queens­land and in NSW Oc­to­ber is Men­tal Health Month. And be­cause it co­in­cides with the re­lease of a new re­port about the num­ber of deaths by sui­cide which has risen by about 9 per cent. That’s about eight peo­ple ev­ery day in Aus­tralia and 75 per cent of them are male and most age groups and de­mo­graph­ics are af­fected.

While you may think it’s a big leap to go from writ­ing about men­tal health and then to sui­cide, the point is that when we are not tak­ing care of our psy­cho­log­i­cal and emo­tional well­be­ing and find our­selves in a dark place we may en­ter­tain sui­ci­dal thoughts – 1 in 17 peo­ple have.

The rea­sons why peo­ple take their own life are many and com­plex, of­ten there is a mood disor­der or men­tal ill­ness in the back­ground and there are a va­ri­ety of sup­ports avail­able for those who seek it.

How­ever therein lies part of the prob­lem. Some be­lieve that ad­mit­ting they are not thriv­ing or are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dark thoughts and men­tal strug­gles is a weak­ness and there­fore are re­luc­tant to talk about it to any­one. Oth­ers fear that if they do, they may be­come stuck in what can be a re­volv­ing door or in care that achieves lit­tle.

What has be­come clear with more re­search is that most peo­ple with sui­ci­dal thoughts are giv­ing oth­ers sub­tle in­di­ca­tors of their men­tal state that they want no­ticed.

But these can eas­ily be missed, dis­missed or avoided if oth­ers are not pay­ing at­ten­tion or don’t know what to look for. If they are no­ticed, it of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to ask the per­son if they’re OK and also if they are hav­ing thoughts of sui­cide.

While ask­ing that sec­ond ques­tion may seem con­fronting if you haven’t done it be­fore, it’s an im­por­tant and pos­si­bly life­sav­ing one which, when han­dled sen­si­tively and non-judg­men­tally, helps the other per­son to feel safe and sup­ported and there­fore more likely to open up and have a con­ver­sa­tion at a time when they most need one.

■ If you or a loved one need sup­port, Life­line Aus­tralia pro­vides free 24/7 tele­phone cri­sis sup­port on 13 11 14.

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