Life often throws curve-balls that knock us off kilter. We know from research that approximately one in five Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and most of us will experience a mental health problem like stress, anxiety or depression at some point in our lives. Managing our mental health can be tough at times, especially when starting a business. It can be hard to know what to say or where to start. That is why the team at Online Business Lift-Off have put together some resources to help get you started.

How to get help
To get help managing your mental health—be it stress, anxiety, overwhelm or depression—visit your GP and ask them for a “mental health care plan”. This gives you access to medicare support for up to 10 psychology sessions per year. Remember you can always take a support person with you when you go to your GP.

If you need a recommendation for a psychologist have a chat to your GP or one of the organisations listed under “information and services” below. Alternatively you can use the national find a psychologist tool.

Getting help in crisis
If you are worried about your safety or that of someone you love please call 000 or one of the organisations below.

Lifeline – 13 11 14
Crisis support and suicide prevention services (24/7).

Suicide Call back Service – 1300 6529 467
Free counseling for suicide prevention & mental health via telephone, online & video for anyone 15+ struggling with suicidal thoughts. they also provide advice if you are worried about a loved one (24/7).

Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
An Australia-wide 24/7 telephone and online counseling and support service for young peopleaged 5 to 25. Also has some great advice/information for parents/carers.

ParentLine Victoria – 13 22 89
Parentline is a statewide phone service for parents and carers of children from birth to 18 years old. They offer confidential and anonymous counseling, information and referral service for parents who live in Vicotria (8am to midnight, 7 days a week).

MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78
A dedicated service online and telephone counselling/support service for men with emotional health, relationship and/or family concerns (24/7).

Respect – 1800 737 732
The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counseling Line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault (24/7).

Beyond Now App
Often someone who thinks about hurting themselves doesn’t really want to die. They are in emotional pain and just want it to go away or, part of them wants to live, but sometimes life feels/is hard. It can be helpful to have a plan when going through a tough time (this plan is type of plan is known as a safety plan). Beyond Blue developed the Beyond Now app to help people create a safety plan that is accessible on their phone anywhere anytime.

Information and services
There is so much information out there about mental health it can be overwhelming. Here are a few reputable sources of information and support to help you get started.

BeyondBlue – 1300 22 4636
Over the phone and online support, information and resources around depression and anxiety and suicide prevention (phone/email 24/7, online chat 3pm to 12am 7 days a week).

MindSpot – 1800 61 44 34
Is a free online service for adults experiencing anxiety, stress, depression, chronic pain and low mood. They provide assessment, therapist guided treatment or help finidng you local service.

SANE – 1800 18 7263
Australia’s a national mental health charity working to support four million Australians affected by complex mental illness (10am-10pm 7 days a week).

Information, support and services for young people aged 12 to 25.

Whatever’s going on, has info, forums and online tools that can help young people, parents and teachers.

For men. About men. A resource funded by the Movember Foundation that provides guys with information and practical tips to manage and prevent depression. Includes resources for family.

Black Dog Institute
The Black Dog Institute provides clinical information, support and free online mental health programs for all Australians.

The Butterfly Foundation – 1800 33 4673
Specialist phone, email and online chat support serivce for those impacted  by eating disorders and negative body image isues.

What is mental illness?
Mental illness is a general term that refers to a group of illnesses, in the same way that heart disease refers to a group of illnesses and disorders affecting the heart. A mental illness is a health problem that affects how a person feels, thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people. A mental illness can be diagnosed according to a standardised set of criteria in the same way that any other health condition is diagnosed.

A mental health problem also interferes with how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, but to a lesser extent than a mental illness. Mental health problems are more common and are often experienced as a temporarily reaction to the stresses of life. While mental health problems are less severe than mental illnesses, they may develop into a mental illness if they are not effectively dealt with.

Types of mental illness
There are many different types of mental illness that range in severity. It’s important to remember that each person’s experience with mental health is different. Some of the major types of mental illness are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorders, and eating disorders.

The most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depressive disorders. While everyone experiences strong feelings of tension, fear, or sadness at times, a mental illness is present when these feelings become so disturbing and overwhelming that people have great difficulty coping with day-to-day activities, such as work, enjoying leisure time, and maintaining relationships.

At their most extreme, people with a depressive disorder may not be able to get out of bed or care for themselves physically. People with certain types of anxiety disorder may not be able to leave the house, or may have compulsive rituals to help them alleviate their fears. 

Less common are mental illnesses that may involve psychosis. These include schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder. People experiencing an acute episode of psychosis lose touch with reality and perceive their world differently from normal. Their ability to make sense of thoughts, feelings, and the world around them is seriously affected.

Eating disorders are abnormal patterns of eating and exercising that severely interfere with your everyday life. For example, you might eat extremely small amounts of food or eat in an uncontrolled way. You might also be very worried about food, body weight and appearance. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

Worried about your safety or that of someone you love? Contact one of the “help in crisis” numbers listed above. In an emergency call 000.

Not sure how to start a conversation with a friend or loved one? Check out Beyond Blue’s have the conversation guide, the tips on conversations matter, or r u ok’s how to ask guide.