BRIGHT and bubbly Amy Rhodes wants to challenge the general perception someone with anxiety or depression must seem miserable on the outside.
A big part of Amy learning to tackle her own mental health issues is people are surprised when she talks and opens up about her struggles.
The beyondblue ambassador and Women’s Health Grampians’ deputy strives to help regional people understand mental health better so they may seek help and identify when others might need some help.
Rural doctors are calling for greater mental health support for rural and remote youth, including telehealth services for affected young people, ahead of World Mental Health Day on Wednesday. Rural Doctors Association of Australia claims half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected or untreated and rates of suicide and self-harm increase with each degree of remoteness.
Amy knows firsthand how tough it can be to access help – originally from Stawell, Amy was put on hold three times, then had a month’s wait for professional help from a health service.
But Amy said it was important people know what help is available online or via the phone to fill the gap and start the right conversations.
“It’s really important for people who do have mental health problems, but also for those who don’t, to know where to direct someone they are concerned about and knowing how to help,” Amy said.
“For me, I was really lucky I had a friend who had her own mental health challenges. She said, ‘I really want you to call and make an appointment and call me back once you’ve done that’. It made a huge difference, it held me accountable.”
The most important piece of advice Amy wants people to consider is making time for self-care. For Amy, this is about prioritising her daily life, making sure she does thing that make her feel good: taking the dog to the dog park; exercise; getting enough sleep; and, mindfulness and meditation.
“I’m still not perfect. It’s a journey,” Amy said. “It’s quite empowering to talk about what I have learned.”
Amy is a guest speaker for Mind Your Health, a free evening of inspiring speakers, short films and art at Wendouree Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday, 6-8pm.
beyondblue offers online forums, chat and a helpline for anxiety and depression: 1300 22 4636 and beyondblue.org.au.
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