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24-Aug-2021

how to overcome depression at home | covid-19 support
Depression is not just sadness that stays with you for a few weeks, depression is a condition that impacts your everyday thoughts, feelings, behaviour, or actions in the long run   Depression symptoms include    A huge decline in interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy  Negative thoughts Loss of energy, constant fatigue, and issues with sleep The shift in appetite and weight Difficulty with concentration and making decisions Withdrawal from close/loved ones Depend on alcohol and sedatives Low Self- esteem to thoughts of suicide/death Anxiety and depression can occur at the same time, if you are also experiencing anxiety, we have more information on how to cope with anxiety    Ways to tackle depression at home   Diet During times of stress, anxiety and depression, you may experience a shift in diet and appetite that can also impact your lifestyle. Hence it is essential to eat mindfully and healthily by choosing the types of foods and how much to eat. This will improve your diet performance and can reduce symptoms of depression. Nutrients such as healthy fats, fibres to vitamins and minerals play a role in our mental health and function. Moreover, don’t forget the food pyramid. The food pyramid is a basic starter and guides on what food groups we should consume and how much we should consume. You can take a BMI quiz and view your meal plan based on your and your body type.  Meditation Practising mediation regularly assist your brain in managing stress and anxiety that can be a root cause for depression. Meditation teaches our mind to maintain focus and to return to that focus when symptoms of depression interfere.  Exercise A stronger body = a stronger mind. Exercising releases endorphins and brain chemicals that can improve your sense of well-being. It also assists in building your confidence while allowing you to take your mind of negative thoughts or feelings that can arise from depression and anxiety. In times of Covid, gyms may not be open to everyone, however, there are many workout videos you may complete at home with just the tip of your finger. Remember consistency is key for an effective workout.  Create or try something new    Even just baking a batch of new cookies for yourself or creating new artwork or trying a new craft, getting creative enables productivity and assist in mindfulness especially during times of depression   Instructable is a creative community of people who explore and share  their projects with step-by-step instructions   Online counselling and therapy Seeking online professional help is an important part of overcoming depression and anxiety. Just like the flu, fever or migraines, we should seek an expert or doctor when we need help. The same applies to our minds as they are not always perfect. If there are any signs of depression and anxiety especially during times of Covid, rest assured as our professionals are here to help you!  If you would like to consult or connect with a professional feel free to download our Cyber Clinic app on the Apple Store or on Google Play. You may also head to How it Works  on how to download the app. Our practitioners offer Medicare rebates. Remember, balance and consistency is key to everything. We understand your motivation might be low but if you are going through depression, anxiety or stress. Remember you are not alone and Cyber Clinic is here for you. Start your online counselling now, improve your diet, begin your journey to exercising even if times are tough, you can do it!    

15-Jul-2021

5 ways to stay sane through covid-19 lockdown | online therapy
5 Ways to stay sane through uncertain times  The current global crisis that we all love to hate, Covid-19, may seem like a battle with a highly infectious virus - but seemingly, the real fight most of us are having is with our own sanity. Last year Victorians were plunged into one of the most strict lockdowns globally. As a result, the state found out in unison just how dangerous isolation can be.  With many arguing the efficacy of state-wide lockdowns, what is clear is that we may not have seen the end of them just yet. Despite the lighter side of lockdown pushing people towards new hobbies, the reality is that such a sudden change in routine can spell disaster for those with even the strongest of mental health.  Keeping “sane” is easier said than done, and there is no one task that will help you survive time spent in extended lockdown, but we have compiled five simple tasks to consider that will likely help you manage your mental health better.  1. Connect with friends and family  A problem shared is a problem halved; we are social creatures by nature, and connecting with a friend or family member and discussing what you’re going through help to alleviate stress caused by too much of your own company. Make sure you check in on friends that live alone and don’t be afraid to reach out to loved ones if you need someone to talk to.    2. Stick to a routine  The most significant disruption the Victorian lockdowns have had is to our daily routines. Despite how much we all hate Mondays, going into the office and following your morning ritual as you pour your cup of coffee and fire up your computer is a routine that keeps you sane. You may not have a very long commute now working from home, but having set times for when you get up from bed and take your breaks - even on weekends - can help maintain a sense of normalcy in such unprecedented times.    3. Exercise  We have all heard it before, but the science doesn’t change: exercising is good for your mental health. It can be hard to find the motivation to do a full workout, but something as simple as trying to break a sweat with a quick home workout or just sticking to your step goals each day is sufficient to release enough endorphins and serotonin to keep your mind and body in check.    4. Keep a journal  Given long enough time cooped up at home and the days will begin to blur into one. A great way to fight off that depressive feeling of monotony is to keep track of each day with a journal. Many, however, confuse journaling with the expectation of writing a short novel before bed, which of course, isn’t sustainable. Three quick paragraphs before bed are all you need to be able to take a brief account of the day. Make sure to note specific tasks and try to recall emotions felt through the day - remember, it’s just for you to read so you can be as honest as you like.    5. Seek professional help  If you’re feeling like the time in isolation is starting to get to you, then don’t be afraid to speak to a professional. Even if you feel like you are coping, professional help should be seen as an exercise to keep your most important muscle, your brain, healthy, rather than as a cure for when something is wrong.  Cyber Clinic has made seeking online therapy easy with their Cyber Clinic app, allowing you to have video consults with professional mental health support. Once downloaded, you can perform a short quiz to help match yourself to the right therapist for you, plus you can take advantage of up to twenty Medicare rebatable sessions within the app.  Through this time of uncertainty and rapid change, there is no expectation to get through it without some hiccups along the way. So, whether you implement just one task in this list or all of them, find the balance that helps you feel okay and maintains a sense of peace and normalcy in your day-to-day life.

25-Jan-2021

neuroplasticity for healthy minds
Your mind can repair and rewire itself. The ability of the brain to adapt to changes in your environment by forming new neural connections overtime is defined as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity explains how the human brain is able to adapt, master new skills, store memories and information and even recover after a traumatic brain injury.  Some ways to increase the plasticity in your brain Quality sleep Early to bed, early to rise will help fight fatigue, reset our bodies to keep our memory and health in top shape. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep Intermittent fasting Intermittent fasting helps stimulate your brain by calorie-restriction. Fasting increases synaptic plasticity, promotes neuron growth, decreases the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and improves cognitive function according to the Society for Neuroscience. During fasting, a metabolic shift lowers the body's leptin levels, a hormone produced by fat. As a result, the brain receives a chemical signal for neurons to produce more energy. Travel Open your mind to new possibilities and experiences by getting on the road. Take a weekend road trip to a different place and give your brain the same stimulation as travelling overseas. Memory training Start with remembering names, pictures, poems and your not-so favourite movie or sports stars. This stimulates your mind to produce new neural pathways.  Meditation  Meditation 6x6x6x6 For 12 minutes a day, find a quiet place and give yourself a gift for life. Start with breathing through your nose for 6 seconds, hold your breath for another 6 seconds, exhale for 6 and pause for 6. Do this 6 times.  Revert to normal breathing.  Exercise Move faster, walk longer, jump higher, breath deeper. All these simple changes help to produce happy hormones in your body for you to function at your best at all times

07-Aug-2020

how i tackled anxiety
One in six Australians is currently experiencing depression or anxiety or both. Beyond Blue Breakdown: 17.0% of Australians aged 16 to 85 have experienced anxiety and/or affective disorder in the past 12 months. This is equivalent to 3.2 million people today. This is one of our team member’s stories on how she tackled anxiety.   Tash has been suffering from anxiety since her mid-twenties. “All of a sudden the fear of being surrounded by tall buildings, being in an elevator, driving a car and sitting on board for a flight, became overwhelming and very scary for me. I was becoming my own enemy and the voices in my head told me that I was a threat to myself. I thought that one day these feelings would leave me, and they did, however, after several years, the type of fears changed, yet the anxieties remained. Walking alone in the dark from the tram stop to my house, being the only passenger in a taxi, the constant fear of losing my job, the list went on. I ended up having frequent panic attacks, would call an ambulance believing that I was having a heart attack. The pains in my chest would become unbearable yet, the doctor’s report on my heart health and blood tests were fine. I trialled various diets, did all sorts of physical exercise and spent time with quality social networks and friends, but would come back to the anxious moments and endless thoughts of the worst-case scenarios in any moment of being on my own. I disliked my own company as this was when my mind played up. The activities that I was enjoyed, became a task and I lived in my boxed mind.  I was later diagnosed with an autoimmune condition as my body was either in a flight or a fight mode. Someone once told me, that when we are sad, our organs weep. This was true indeed. Constant arguments, misunderstandings with close people and family members, very little to no sleep for endless nights and no energy underpinned the feelings of low self-esteem and self -worth and I began questioning my existence and why all this defined me. I knew I had to see a therapist, but I struggled with finding time in work hours and also could not afford the cost of seeing one on a weekly basis. When I finally was provided an EAP benefit, I could not align with many psychologists or vice versa, and finding the best-fit mental health practitioner for my needs was not easy. It has been four months since I last saw my psychologist. She helped me ground myself, by bringing me back to the now. CBT and probing into the whys of my reactions to events and my thoughts and fears, I learnt about myself and knew that I was to change a few things in my life to get ahead of my situation. I started with being loyal to my needs first. I went to every psych consult religiously, and in the third session, realised how I was changing as a person, I felt strong, proud and empowered. I was taught to create boundaries and continue to enjoy amazing connections with my friends and loved ones. I learnt to self-love and nurture my needs ahead of others. I was learning to say “no” politely and firmly and to stand in what I believed. I felt like I could surrender to the new me and still feel free. Fast forward to now, I do these things daily to keep on top of my mental health: Embrace me and accept me for who I am Remind me of my strengths, values and principles Tell myself it is ok to not be ok Respect myself and others Not take life too seriously Take deep breathes and breaks from work throughout the day Be selective about friends and continue to be kind and loving Treat myself to my favourite snack, movie and pastimes without feeling guilty Do gentle exercises daily to rejuvenate Make a point to eat healthy fruit, veg, seeds and drink a lot of water Go to bed early and switch off from the screen an hour in advance It is ok to say no to demanding friends and relatives

07-Aug-2020

10 more mental health gov subsidised sessions
We welcome the good news from Minister Greg that the Government will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised mental health consults for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic after lengthy meetings with the APS. We are proud to offer this to our existing clients to help support with their current mental health treatment plan.   Mental health and suicide prevention remain one of the Government’s highest priorities, and this Government recognises the mental health impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on individuals and communities, particularly those in areas such as Victoria, where regrettable but necessary measures are needed to stop the spread of the virus. New items will be created under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS initiative (Better Access) and will be available from 7 August 2020 until 31 March 2021.    Patients need to have: A Mental Health Treatment Plan Have used all of their 10 sessions in the calendar year; Have to undertake a review with their GP after their 10th session The Australian Government continues to demonstrate its firm commitment to the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians, with estimated expenditure for mental health services and suicide prevention to be more than $5.2 billion in 2019-20.

26-Jun-2019

rural australians are dying – how regional businesses can help fill the mental health gap
Ten per cent of Australians live in regional and remote areas – that’s 2.6 million people who can’t easily access the mental health services they desperately need.         How can rural businesses help? I recently asked a friend from Brisbane if she would pack up her family and move to a rural town in Australia if she knew that cancer rates were twice as high than those in the city? She looked aghast and said no, of course she wouldn’t.  I then asked, “what if your son had a chronic condition and you knew that 75% of the specialists he would need were based in major cities, would you move to a rural town then?” Her answer, as expected, was another emphatic no.  And yet, this devastating reality is what we ask of regional and rural Australians suffering from mental health issues.   Between 2010 and 2017, the rate of suicide in remote areas was almost double that of major cities, and in 2015 VicHealth reported that 88% of psychiatrists, 75% of mental health nurses and 75% of registered psychologists were employed in major cities, leaving the remaining workforce to serve all other rural and regional areas. Is this truly the best we can do?   Specialised Access Last week the results of a review of the Australian Government’s Better Access mental health scheme were released, and the results showed that the scheme is inequitable in its current format, especially for those in rural and regional areas. In fact, a 2015 study found the delivery of Better Access services was typically greater in more advantaged urban areas. In order to combat this inequity, the Australian Psychological Society (ASP) is recommending to the government that a new certification for regional and rural psychologists be created as a recognition of the unique skills required to work in remote areas. By creating a regional psychology speciality there is hope that access and delivery of rural mental health services will receive more focus and funding from the government in years to come. But, until such provisions are up and running, where can people turn for help today?   Offering Options With limited access to qualified and specialised psychologists within a reasonable distance from their home or workplace, many rural Australians are struggling on a day-to-day basis. This impacts their productivity, increases their likelihood of absenteeism from work and creates problems in their personal lives. In small and remote communities, one person’s struggle soon affects everyone.  Often people who live in small rural communities are reluctant to seek treatment because of a perceived lack of anonymity and confidentiality - walking into a psychologist’s office in a large city is nerve-wracking enough, but knowing that your entire community is witnessing you take that step can be downright terrifying. Plus, in urban centres you have the option of finding a mental health professional that is right for you - there are numerous choices available - but in regional areas you likely have only one option, and if that person isn’t a good fit there may be no realistic alternative available.  Until the government manages to provide modern and forward-thinking regional mental health services, rural businesses can help fill the chasm the government is unable to close. Businesses that offer digital and online mental health services to employees allow them to access the immediate help they need, on their terms, and in complete anonymity. The range of mental health professionals available on platforms such as Cyber Clinic means people can find someone who understands their unique circumstances as someone living in a regional or remote community, and who has an approach that works for them. The positive effects of providing online mental health support will not only be felt in the workplace, where an employee’s work satisfaction and morale will increase and hence business productivity, but in the wider community. Regional and rural Australians are known for being tight-knit and supporting those in their communities during tough times – offering access to online mental health services may be the most important support there is.

26-Jun-2019

will the royal commission into mental health save lives, or simply score political points?
The terms of reference have been finalised and the commissioners announced but will Victoria’s Royal Commission into Mental Health actually deliver on its promise to improve mental health outcomes? On the announcement of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System just before the state election last year, I was equally sceptical and hopeful. The first of its kind in Australia, the commission couldn’t be more needed, but I felt unease at mental health issues being used for political point-scoring.  One in five Victorians will experience mental health problems this year, and yet, currently the state government only funds enough mental health services to cater for one per cent of the population, not 20 per cent. In fact, it’s the lowest per capita spend on mental health services of any state in Australia.  But funding is only one indicator of how well mental health services are functioning to meet demand, and according to the 8,000 Victorians who made online submissions for the initial phase of the commission (eight times more than the number of people who made submissions to Victoria's family violence royal commission) the system is clearly broken. The demand for change is overwhelming.  By the government’s own admission, despite the number of people who experience mental health issues in the state, only about half receive treatment. Why, in one of the most developed countries in the world, are people not getting the level of access they need? We can, and must, do better, but will the royal commission listen?  A SYSTEM FOR THE FUTURE Our current mental health system is fragmented, difficult to navigate and, most alarming of all, dehumanising to people at the very moment in time they need the most human connection.   In our modern world, there is often outcry about the dehumanising nature of digital technologies, and yet, time and again, those same technologies have brought us closer together. We connect with loved ones on the other side of the world, or doctors’ who are hours away from home, at the click of the button. Human connection is not lost because of technology, it is lost due to bureaucracy.    We live in the 21st century, and yet our mental health system is severely outdated, without any understanding of how to meet the changing needs of our society. We need to invest in digitizing mental health delivery – actually funding service provision and access in a modern way – rather than simply raising awareness and funding education programs.  A strong digital infrastructure is the backbone of every part of contemporary society – mental health should be no different. Unless the royal commission looks for solutions grounded in the future, too soon any recommendations it gives will once again leave our mental health system in the past. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Now that the first phase of the commission is over, the terms of reference have been finalised (which can be found in full here). These include how to effectively prevent mental illness and suicide, how to help people navigate the system, how to help families and those with mental illness and how best to support people with mental illness and drug and alcohol issues. In coming months, the commission is expected to release information on how the inquiry will be conducted, including how the community can contribute to its work. The commission is scheduled to produce a preliminary report by 30 November this year, and a final report in October 2020.  I encourage everyone to work with the royal commission if they can and push for radical change – anything less will be a heavy indictment that politics comes before people.

26-Jun-2019

are hologram doctors the future of mental health services? maybe not, but digital health is
            Australia has launched its first ever Productivity Commission on mental health and as far as solutions go, digital health needs to be front and centre. There was a time in Australia when construction workers didn’t wear hard hats onsite, factory workers had to work 12-hour days, and no one had even heard of an OH&S safety demonstration.  Government regulations and workplaces evolved over the past 100 years for two important reasons – to protect workers and to protect the economy. It simply wasn’t good business to have once productive employees laid up in bed with broken bones or exhaustion – safe and supportive workplaces meant better productivity for companies and a better Australian economy overall. In 2019, our ‘lucky country’ now has some of the most stringent workplace safety laws in the world. But, the nature of work has changed dramatically in the 104 years since the Australian industrial relations system began. While physical health and safety must always be a primary concern, the mental load workers are placed under in our highly pressurised society is taking a toll – on them, and our economy.  AN INVISIBLE CRISIS Just last month the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that the loss of productivity resulting from depression and anxiety is costing the global economy US $1 trillion each year. Here in Australia, four per cent of our GDP is lost every year due to productivity losses as a result of workers’ mental health issues – that’s at least AU $60 billion! However, in an extremely welcome and encouraging move, the government has established Australia’s first-ever Productivity Commission to ‘examine the effect of mental health on people’s ability to participate in and prosper in the community and workplace, and the effects it has more generally on our economy and productivity’.  Initial submissions are open until 5 April this year, and I encourage everyone to make their voices and concerns heard during this important process.  But, given the staggering economic impact of mental health on Australia’s economy why has this commission taken so long to be convened? Well, recognising and diagnosing mental health issues is much more difficult than identifying physical hazards in the workplace – we struggle as people to fix what we can’t see. And, importantly, solutions for improving the mental health of employees aren’t as easy to come by as clearly marking fire exits and limiting work hours.   REMOVING BARRIERS In 2014, an IBIS report on the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) sector suggested that the usage rate of EAP services in certain industries could be as low as five per cent. The research indicated that employees generally don’t trust EAP services, are concerned about the confidentiality of such programs, and that they are perceived to have a poor quality of care – practitioners are inexperienced, or not well-matched with their clients.  In this environment, many businesses are increasingly looking to alternative solutions. Digital health is easy for employees to access, especially remote workers or those in rural areas, and can be used at their convenience, so after hours or even on weekends.  Most importantly, digital health platforms like Cyber Clinic use sophisticated algorithms to better match practitioners with patients, measure quality of care, and ensure trust and confidentiality are the foundation of all practitioner-patient relationships.  A 2019 report identified that a barrier to using telehealth in Australia was the perception of the loss of the ‘human touch’ aspect of care – only 14 per cent of the population said remote appointments using hologram doctors in their home would have the most impact on improving healthcare today. But we don’t need to beam doctors into homes or workplaces to see positive outcomes – the digital health platforms that connect patients and practitioners via video can be just the right mix of technological innovation and human care. Digital health can change lives, improve productivity and increase Australia’s GDP, and my hope is that one day mental health support in the workplace will be as clearly visible as a well-marked fire exit.  

26-Jun-2019

my top workplace productivity tip for 2021: talk about mental health
An employee or colleague who is struggling can’t leave their issues at home - having workplace conversations about mental health is the best thing you can do to improve your business. It’s a new year and my LinkedIn feed has been flooded with optimistic messages of people’s hopes, dreams and goals for their work and their business. I love this time of year - that uplifting and euphoric feeling that comes with new beginnings is infectious and anything seems possible.  But, unfortunately, that feeling rarely lasts and for many of us it will give way to feelings of stress, anxiety and depression as work starts to pile up and personal issues begin to strain our relationships. Looking at the months ahead, how can you identify an employee or colleague who is struggling, and what can you do to help them? NO MATTER THE TRIGGER, PROVIDE HELP Research conducted by beyondblue in 2014 revealed that one in five Australian employees had taken time off work due to feeling mentally unwell in the preceding 12 months. While some mental health issues can have workplace triggers, such as job stress, toxic cultural environments and overwork, many others are triggered by personal factors in an employee’s life. However, this does not mean help shouldn’t be provided within the workplace.  During my time working with dozens of companies and organisations around Australia, I’ve witnessed first hand how helping employees improve their mental health can be one of the most important steps to improve a worker’s productivity, as well as the health of the entire organisation. In fact, 75 per cent of Australian employees believe workplaces should provide support to someone who is experiencing depression or anxiety, but many employees (35 per cent) don’t know what mental health resources exist in their organisation or don’t have access to them. That’s why providing an open and safe environment to have mental health conversations is so crucial.   DOES SOMEONE YOU KNOW NEED HELP? Employees are often fearful of raising mental health concerns with their employer due to stigma and concerns about future job prospects. Which means, it’s not always enough to wait for an employee or colleague to come asking for help – sometimes you have to go to them.   If someone you work with closely seems increasingly withdrawn or disengaged, is easily distracted, no longer producing work to their usual standard, is increasingly irritable or more absent than usual they may be struggling with their mental health.  You spend hours with your workmates, often in highly stressful situations, so if you find yourself saying “they’ve changed”, “that’s not usually like them” or “they don’t seem ok” then your instincts are probably correct. But, what do you do next? SUPPORTING SOMEONE WHO IS STRUGGLING Raising your concerns with an employee or colleague about their mental health can seem like a daunting task, and, perhaps you might question whether it is even your place to do so at all? But silence is the very thing that feeds depression and anxiety and allows it to grow – caring too much about someone is never a bad thing.  So, firstly, plan your approach. Increase your mental health literacy and find out what options your workplace has available to provide help. Be prepared that the person may get angry or upset and try not to take it personally. And, approach them in a neutral environment, over coffee or lunch for instance, and allow the person to talk to give them the space and ability to open up.  Our mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum – we aren’t only mentally unwell at home or outside the office. It is everyone’s responsibility, from the CEO and HR to managers and assistants, to make it easier to have conversations about mental health in the workplace.  My hope for 2021 is that all Australian employees feel healthy, happy and productive – so let’s start the conversation.

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