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MENTAL HEALTH

You may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you’ve felt sad, down or miserable most of the time, or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories below.

It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you’re depressed. Equally, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.

Behaviour

  • not going out anymore
  • not getting things done at work/school
  • withdrawing from close family and friends
  • relying on alcohol and sedatives
  • not doing usual enjoyable activities
  • unable to concentrate

Feelings

  • overwhelmed
  • guilty
  • irritable
  • frustrated
  • lacking in confidence
  • unhappy
  • indecisive
  • disappointed
  • miserable
  • sad

Thoughts

  • ‘I’m a failure.’
  • ‘It’s my fault.’
  • ‘Nothing good ever happens to me.’
  • ‘I’m worthless.’
  • ‘Life’s not worth living.’
  • ‘People would be better off without me.’

Physical

  • tired all the time
  • sick and run down
  • headaches and muscle pains
  • churning gut
  • sleep problems
  • loss or change of appetite
  • significant weight loss or gain

If you think that you or someone you know may be experiencing depression, completing our checklist is a quick, easy and confidential way to give you more insight. The checklist won’t provide a diagnosis – for that you’ll need to see a health professional – but it can help to guide you and provide a better understanding of how you’re feeling.

Source:  www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/signs-and-symptoms

It’s an expression we use every day, so it might surprise you that the term ‘mental health’ is frequently misunderstood.

‘Mental health’ is often used as a substitute for mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety conditions, schizophrenia, and others.

According to the World Health Organization, however, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

So rather than being about ‘what’s the problem?’ it’s really about ‘what’s going well?’

”Mental health is about wellness rather than illness”

To make things a bit clearer, some experts have tried coming up with different terms to explain the difference between ‘mental health’ and ‘mental health conditions’. Phrases such as ‘good mental health’, ‘positive mental health’, ‘mental wellbeing’, ‘subjective wellbeing’ and even ‘happiness’ have been proposed by various people to emphasise that mental health is about wellness rather than illness. While some say this has been helpful, others argue that using more words to describe the same thing just adds to the confusion.

As a result, others have tried to explain the difference by talking about a continuum where mental health is at one end of the spectrum – represented by feeling good and functioning well – while mental health conditions (or mental illness) are at the other – represented by symptoms that affect people’s thoughts, feelings or behaviour.

The benefits of staying well:

Research shows that high levels of mental health are associated with increased learning, creativity and productivity, more pro-social behaviour and positive social relationships, and with improved physical health and life expectancy. In contrast, mental health conditions can cause distress, impact on day-to-day functioning and relationships, and are associated with poor physical health and premature death from suicide.

But it’s important to remember that mental health is complex. The fact that someone is not experiencing a mental health condition doesn’t necessarily mean their mental health is flourishing. Likewise, it’s possible to be diagnosed with a mental health condition while feeling well in many aspects of life.

Ultimately, mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy – the way we think, feel and develop relationships – and not merely the absence of a mental health condition.

However, if you feel that you may be affected by depression or anxiety remember they are treatable conditions and effective treatments are available. The earlier you seek support, the better.

Source:  www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/what-is-mental-health

DRUGS & ALCOHOL

There are three main types of drugs – depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens. They all cause your mind and body to react in different ways.

Depressants slow your body down; your breathing and heart rate can slow down, you can experience nausea and vomiting, and your ability to think and react to what is happening around you can be affected. Alcohol, heroin, cannabis, sedatives and inhalants are all depressants. These can give you a short-term sense of pleasure and make you feel good for a period of time, but many people experience feelings of depression after using depressants.They can make you disinhibited which increases the chance you might act impulsively or take unsafe risks. Regular depressant use can affect your mood in the longer term, making it even harder to cope, and can increase the risk of suicide in someone experiencing depression.

Cannabis can cause depression, acute panic attacks or ongoing anxiety and paranoia, even in people who have never previously shown signs of having a mental health condition. There is no known ‘safe’ level of cannabis use.

Stimulants speed your body up. They increase your heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure. People using stimulants can feel an increase in confidence, motivation and energy, and a decrease in the need for sleep. While some may say that they enjoy this ‘buzz’, stimulants can cause you to feel agitated, anxious, paranoid, aggressive and violent. You can also experience a range of physical side effects, such as severe stomach cramps, headaches and dizziness.

Methamphetamines – such as speed and ice – cocaine and ecstasy are some of the commonly known stimulants.

Hallucinogens affect your sense of time and your emotional state, and can cause you to experience auditory or visual hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there). Many people experience unpleasant or scary changes to their reality as a result of using hallucinogens. These negative effects can also be relived if the person experiences ‘flashbacks’ sometime later. Hallucinogens include LSD, ketamine and magic mushrooms. Cannabis can also have hallucinogenic effects.

How people react to drugs and alcohol depends on the person’s size, the type and amount of drugs and alcohol being taken, and how often they are being used. For more information about particular drugs and their effects have a look at Drug Facts: druginfo.adf.org.au

Having a strong support network around you is really important if you have decided to take action to change your drug and alcohol habits. Support from friends and family is essential; they will provide reassurance and encouragement when you need it most.

You may need professional support to help you reduce your drug or alcohol use. A General Practitioner (GP) is a good place to start. They can give you information and refer you to other services for treatment, such as counselling or drug rehabilitation. You can also self-refer to some services.

Helplines such as the beyondblue Support Service or DrugInfo can provide information and direct you towards the right services.

Drug and alcohol services are available online, over the phone or in person, so you can link in to support in a way that you feel comfortable. Many people find it helpful to share their experiences with others going through the same thing, so you might think about joining a group in your local area.

Advice for family and friends

Supporting someone who is using drugs and alcohol can be really hard. Often you see things that the other person cannot; the changes in their thinking, their mood and the way they act with you and other friends or workmates. You might want to tell them to stop using, and you might have tried this, but you can’t force them to change – they need to make that choice for themselves.

  • Be supportive and respectful. This does not mean that you have to support their drug or alcohol use; it means that you are supporting them emotionally. You can listen, talk about what is going on and let them know that they are not alone.
  • Help them stay connected with friends that they share positive relationships with.
  • Encourage them to continue doing things that help to improve their mood naturally – drug and alcohol free. Activities might include sport, music, learning a new skill, volunteering or getting outdoors.
  • Ask them what you can do to help them. Often providing practical support, such as helping with cooking or household chores, can take the pressure off.
  • Encourage them to talk with you or someone they trust about what is worrying them. These worries might be what triggers their drug and alcohol use.
  • Help them find information and advice about drug and alcohol use online, over the phone or in person. If they are not interested you might suggest it again sometime, but be careful not to hassle them about it. You could also encourage them to contact the beyondblueSupport Service for support.
  • Encourage them to use safely to minimise the risks of them hurting themselves. If you are not sure what precautions they should take you can learn more together online.
  • Remember that change takes time. Be patient and acknowledge their achievements, no matter how small, even if you do not understand what they are doing and why.

Supporting someone who is using drugs and alcohol can be exhausting. It’s important to take care of your own health and wellbeing during this time. Look after your physical health, take time out to do things you enjoy, and have your own supportive friends to call on when you need it.

You might also find that at times you need a break, and that’s OK too. Just make sure your friend or family member knows how much time you need so they do not feel rejected or alone

Source: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/drugs-alcohol-and-mental-health

SUICIDE

Most suicidal individuals give warning signs or signals of their intentions. The best way to prevent suicide is to recognise these warning signs and respond to them.

Situations:

  • Recent loss (a loved one, job, relationship or pet)
  • Major disappointment (missed promotion at work, failed exams)
  • Change in circumstances (divorce, retirement, separation, children leaving home)
  • Mental disorder/illness
  • Physical illness/injury
  • Suicide of someone they know or recognise
  • Financial/Legal problems
  • Feelings:
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling trapped
  • Depression
  • Irritable/moody, angry
  • Worthlessness
  • No sense of purpose/reason for living

Situations:

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Talking or writing about suicide/death, even if it seems to be a joke
  • Seeking access to something they can kill themselves with
  • Being moody, withdrawn or sad
  • Saying goodbye/giving away possessions
  • Losing interest in things they previously enjoyed
  • Taking less care of their appearance
  • Anxiety or agitation, including difficulty concentrating or sleeping
  • Engaging in self-destructive or risky behaviour
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawal from other people

Sometimes a positive mood after a period of being down may indicate the person has made up their mind to take their own life, and feels relief that the decision has been made

Source; https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/preventing-suicide

  • Reach Out – Ask them directly if they are thinking about suicide. It needs to be a direct question that can’t be misinterpreted.
  • “Are you thinking about suicide?”
  • Most people with thoughts of suicide want to talk about it. They want to live –

but desperately need someone to hear their pain and offer them help to keep safe.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask them if they are thinking about suicide. This shows you
  • care and they’re not alone.
  • Listen to them – Allow them to express their feelings. Let them do most of the talking. They will often feel a great sense of relief someone wants to talk to them about their darkest thoughts.
  • Check their safety – If you are really worried don’t leave them alone. Remove any means of suicide including weapons, medications, drugs, alcohol, even access to a car. Get help by calling Lifeline 13 11 14, or emergency services on 000. You can also take them to the local hospital emergency department.
  • Decide what to do and take action – Talk about steps you can take together to keep them safe. Don’t agree to keep it a secret, you shouldn’t be the only one supporting this person. You may need help from someone else to persuade them to get help. You can also help by finding out information on what resources and services are available for a person who is considering suicide.
  • Ask for a promise – Thoughts of suicide may return, so ask them to promise to reach out and tell someone. Asking them to promise makes it more likely they will tell someone.
  • Get help – There are lots of services and people that can help and provide assistance.
  • GP (doctor)
  • Counsellor, psychologist, social worker
  • School Counsellor
  • Emergency Services 000
  • Community Health Centres
  • Crisis support services like Lifeline, Kids helpline
  • Seek support from family and friends, youth group leader, sports coach, priest, minister or religious leader etc.

In some situations they may refuse help and you can’t force them to get help. You need to ensure the appropriate people are aware of the situation. Don’t shoulder this responsibility yourself.

Source; https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/preventing-suicide

PROBLEM GAMBLING

Do you do any of the following:

  • Spend more money and time than you intend to gambling
  • Feel guilty and ashamed about your gambling
  • Try to win back your losses
  • Miss important things in life such as family time, work, leisure activities, appointments, because of gambling
  • Think about gambling every day
  • Have arguments with friends or family about your gambling
  • Lie or steal to get money for gambling
  • Get into debt or struggle financially due to gambling
  • Worry about any other aspect of your gambling activities

Source; https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/problem-gambling

Taking steps to get help now and overcome gambling problems can help you regain control of your money, time and life, and reduce the impacts on your mental health, family, and relationships.

  • Identify or admit you may have a problem or be at risk of developing one is an important step.
  • Talk to someone you trust about your gambling. This will be the first step to finding the best way forward and develop a plan to cut down or stop.
  • Call the Gambling Helpline (1800 858 858 – any time 24 hours). They can talk to you confidentially and provide information and self-help tools.
  • Contact a gambling help service such as Gamblers Anonymous or another service in your local community. Even one session with a counsellor or support worker can help you assess your situation and set up a plan to help you.
  • Ask a friend to check in with you. Having a close friend to support you can help.
  • See a financial counsellor.
  • After seeking help for your problem gambling behaviors, a financial counselor
  • can assess your financial concerns and help set up a plan to manage debts.