There are many of our workmates, friends and family members who experience mental health problems but may be embarrassed about how they feel. Mental health issues continue to be stigmatised by a lot of people. The demands of struggling with mental health problems can often be a huge challenge. The process of recovery is frequently a difficult one, with treatment setbacks, including sometimes having to manage the suspicion and negativity of others.
While there may be any number of reasons for someone to be acting differently, the 5 questions below are a simple screening which indicate the person may be struggling with mental health concerns. Any one or two of these answered as a “yes” would be an indicator for follow-up with the question… Are you OK?
- Have there been any recent changes in behaviour? Yes/ No
- Have there been any recent changes in self-care? Yes/ No
- Have others raised any concerns about the person? Yes/ No
- Are you aware of any history of mental health problems? Yes / No
- Have there been changes in interpersonal engagement? Yes/ No
It’s important to be aware some people attempt to self-medicate their feelings of depression or anxiety with alcohol, drugs and the overuse of prescription medication. With our workplaces becoming increasingly vigilant about the use of alcohol and illicit drugs, the abuse of prescription medications, often leading to addiction, appears to be coming more prevalent. This is the result of individuals desperate to manage the debilitating effects of the depression, anxiety or other challenges to their mental wellbeing.
Recent statistics give rise for concern about how people use medication prescribed by a GP for themselves or others. Addiction to prescription medication appears to be growing at an alarming rate in Australia.In recent years, the number of deaths from a prescription drugoverdose has become greater than deaths due to a heroin orcocaine overdose. If you’re concerned about a workmate, family member or friend, don’t underestimate the positive influence you can have when you check on their wellbeing. Sharing your concerns with the other person and using the “ALERT approach” is a simple, often effective way of showing you care.
- Approach the person and show interest in his or her well-being
- Listen in an “active manner”, so as to encourage that person to talk about how he or she is coping
- Encourage them to talk with their GP about what’s happening with their wellbeing
- Refer the person to sources of appropriate assistance (e.g. EAP provider, Beyond Blue, Crisis Care)
- Test out other ways the person can be assisted in the short term. For example, they may be willing to discuss their medications with a pharmacist.
With increasing concern about the misuse of prescription medication, it’s timely to revisit the six essential rules relating to medication we all need to follow to protect our physical and mental health.
- Let your prescribing doctor know what medications you’re taking
- Take the medication only in the dosage prescribed by your GP
- Take it when and how the doctor told you to
- If you have any uncomfortable, unexpected side-effects,contact your doctor immediately
- Never share your medication with anyone
- Never use anyone else’s medication.
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This material is produced as an “RUoK?” initiative by Michael Tunnecliffe and Kerryn Ashford-Hatherly (Ashcliffe Psychology). While written in good faith and to acceptable professional standards, these resource sheets are not a substitute for direct professional advice, which should be sought regarding all matters of concern or risk to an individual. Website: www.ashcliffe.com.au