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Staying emotionally well as a mental health caregiver

08 June 2018

Mental health Meet our caregivers
As a part of Men’s Health Week we talk to our Pastoral Services Coordinator, Ian, who explains how he prioritises his mental health.

What attracted you to working in mental health?

It was a mixture of personal interest and natural progression to end up working full time in mental health.

As a 22-year-old, I became a Lifeline counsellor and the majority of the calls were connected to mental health. At that same time, in the space of two years, I had three friends take their own lives.

I worked as a disability advocate for people with an intellectual disability and our contract expanded to include mental health.

How do you keep yourself mentally healthy?

I find self-care strategies very helpful.

Taking time out to do the things I enjoy, bushwalking, attending sports events (go the Bunnies!), spending quality time with family and taking my dog for walks.

A work life balance is very important, so work stays at work, I don’t contact work or check work emails after work.

How does your family support your health and wellbeing?

We regularly ask each other how each is feeling, we spend time with each other.

When I am feeling flat, my family encourage me to walk the dog or to go out for a coffee or to the movies, or to re watch the 2014 grand final (go the Bunnies!).

The family let each other know that it’s OK to feel flat at times. We encourage each other with our self-care strategies.

How do you make healthy connections?

Connectedness is vital, as it links in with identity and meaning and purpose. My belief is that as humans we were not designed to be alone.

I belong to a faith community, a group of people who share the same beliefs as I do, so I get strength from this connection.

I connect with people who share similar interests, eg local dog walkers group, friends who understand my passion for the Bunnies and other sports.

I make an effort to spend quality time with those I love.

What tips can you give other men to stay mentally healthy?

It’s OK to cry, it’s OK for your family to see you cry and it's OK to be vulnerable and to show your vulnerability.

Hiding the pain, is not good, find someone you can trust and talk and talk openly and honestly.

Tell your family and friends how you're really feeling. Seeking help is not weakness, in fact it shows strength.

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At St John of God Health Care we use a variety of trusted experts and caregivers to create our blog posts.