Help towards Hawkesbury youth

One in five young Australians is dealing with a mental illness and more than 60 per cent feel uncomfortable seeking professional support.

A report released in June by Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute surveyed 15,000 15-19 year olds about  their experiences of depression and anxiety.

Mission Australia chief executive, Catherine Yeomans, said many young people were facing challenges when it comes to psychological distress and mental health issues.

Recent research has shown that expressive writing is one way to improve mood, foster a sense of well-being, reduce stress levels and decrease depression.

Windsor Downs psychologist Leanne Allen from Reconnect Psychology said that journal writing helped people clarify their thoughts and feelings, which allows faster healing.

‘‘Writing could strengthen imagination and help in feeling optimistic and hopeful for the future,’’ Mrs Allen said.

Richmond psychologist Wendy McLean agreed that it’s helpful for young adults to write because it’s a therapeutic process that is much like having a conversation with yourself.

‘‘Expressive writing helps to reflect on life and clears the mind, encouraging thoughts to be put in logical order and it distracts you from reality,’’ Mrs McLean said.

The benefits of expressive writing have been known for a long time, but the findings of the Mission Australia report suggest that there is definitely still a need for increased awareness. 

Expressive writing is also an important part of cognitive behavioural therapy, a treatment tool long used by psychologists.

Another way you can improve your mood is to make sure your life is as full of fun activities as possible, maintaining social contacts and building people skills. 

While writing about your thoughts and feelings may help you cope with emotional challenges, it’s not a total cure for everyone. 

Anyone seeking assistance with depression or anxiety should contact Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636. 

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