HEADSPACE Horsham manager Liz Rowe has encouraged more young people to focus on their mental health.
It comes after new data from headspace National Youth Mental Health Survey revealed that 62 per cent of young Australians say their mental health is getting worse.
More than a third (37 per cent) of respondents said that social media was one of the leading contributors.
Expectations from school, family or community (18 per cent) and work or study pressures (16 per cent) were also singled out.
Furthermore, 32 per cent of respondents said they were experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, with half dealing with these problems on their own rather than speaking to someone about them.
Three in five (60 per cent) of respondents who lived in regional Australia said the mental health of young people was getting worse, while 33 per cent attributed social media to the cause of the supposed decline.
Ms Rowe said she wasn't surprised by the data.
"You can look at the statistics of this survey from a negative perspective, but I think you can also look at them from a positive perspective," she said.
"More than 60 per cent of young people say they are seriously thinking about their mental health which is a good thing. That shows that the stigma of mental health is dropping and that we shouldn't stop talking about it."
Ms Rowe said social media had a great impact on young people's mental health in the region.
"Social media can be a fantastic thing, but we need to educate young people about the consequences of using it. It's instant and things can stay online forever," she said.
"What Facebook and Instagram are doing (getting rid of how many likes a post has) is a start, but parents need to teach their children from a young age about social media."
It was announced in June that all Victorian public school students will be banned from using their phones at school from 2020.
Members of headspace Horsham's youth reference group devised a Swap Challenge initiative for Mental Health Week. The challenge encouragesd people to swap unhealthy lifestyle habits for more healthy choices.
"That challenge is a great way for young people to look at their lifestyle habits and make changes," Ms Rowe said.
"For instance, swapping screen time on their phone for reading a book or hanging out with friends could be an option. There's a lot more to life than just sitting on your phone."
Ms Rowe said young people aged 12 to 25 could contact headspace Horsham on 5381 1543 or drop at 77 Hamilton Street, Horsham.
Headspace chief executive Jason Trethowan said there were many factors that contributed to the state of a young person's mental health.
"We know mental health is complex and there are many factors that contribute to a young person's wellbeing," he said.
"But it's clear from the research that social media is something young people have strong opinions about and it's something that appears to be creating more pressure day-to-day.
"A young person's real-world persona and online persona are so intertwined these days so for example, if they're being vulnerable online or sharing something personal and not getting the reaction they were hoping for, it can be really upsetting."
Yourtown operates the Kids Helpline. Yourtown chief executive Tracy Adams said mental health issues and thoughts of suicide accounted for 59 per cent of all contacts made last year by children and young people.
"Each year we see an increase in mental health, emotional wellbeing and suicide-related concerns, they now account for 59.2 per cent or 39,812 of all counselling contacts," she said.
"Our concern is that this may be just the tip of the iceberg as only a small percentage of kids actually seek help. We really need to encourage more help-seeking among children and young people, particularly among boys."
- If you, or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Help on 1800 55 1800 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
TIPS TO LOOKING AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH:
- Get in to life Keeping the fun in your life and doing things you love can give you a sense of accomplishment and purpose, boost your confidence and help to connect with others.
- Learn skills for tough times Taking a digital detox, listening to music, spending time outdoors or writing things down are just a few ways that can help you handle challenging times.
- Create connections Spending time with friends, family and people in your community, or joining a new club, even cutting back on social media use to allow more time to participate in activities like team sports can help you feel connected and meet new people.
- Eat well There is a strong link between what we eat and how we feel - staying hydrated and having a healthy diet with a variety of fruit, veggies, nuts and wholegrains can improve mental health.
- Stay active Staying active can help you to sleep better, manage stress and boost your mood. Make time to take a break from study or work to do some exercise, whether it be going to the gym, kicking a ball around with a friend or just going for a walk.
- Get enough sleep Reducing things like noise, light or active thing such as video gaming - can help you improve your sleep.
- Cut back on alcohol and other drugs Curbing the amount of alcohol and other drugs you use (or avoiding alcohol and drugs altogether) will help you manage your emotions better and improve your wellbeing.
- Groups, volunteers provide mental health support through advocacy
- Mental health advocate Lauren Dempsey encourages others to reach out
- Advocates encourage men to talk about mental health
- Wimmera mental health counselling wait times up to 12 weeks
- Ballarat Health Services advocates for mental health beds in Horsham
- Expanded mental health services needed in Horsham, practice manager says
- Horsham naturopath's advice to improve wellbeing, mental health
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.