Mental Health in Speedway
Mental health is about being able to work and study to your full potential, cope with day-to-day life stresses, be involved in your community, and live your life in a free and satisfying way. A person who has good mental health has good emotional and social wellbeing and the capacity to cope with change and challenges.
Just as we have physical health, we all have mental health too. Mind defines good mental health as being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you’re frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.
Approximately one in four people will experience a mental health problem in any given year. Common mental health problems include depression and anxiety, while less common problems include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
If you feel you know a person whose mental health is getting in the way of their daily life, it is important to let them know you are there to support them. Looking out for your mates is important, whether it’s at or away from the track, it’s important that we support them when it comes to their mental health. The Speedway industry is bound by a love for cars and one great support initiative is Chat Laps - a Chat Lap is going for a drive with a mate, and having a chat. It’s as simple as that. Men in particular often prefer to talk side-by-side, rather than face-to-face, which makes a car trip the perfect time for an open and honest conversation, without it being weird.
A conversation can make the difference in helping someone feel less alone and more supported, no matter where you have it. As a mate, don’t underestimate the power of just ‘being there’.
Signs & Symptoms
It can be helpful to talk to someone about what's going on in your life if you have noticed a change in how you are feeling and thinking. This might include:
- Feeling things have changed or aren't quite right
- Changes in the way that you carry out your day-to-day life
- Not enjoying, or not wanting to be involved in things that you would normally enjoy
- Changes in appetite or sleeping patterns
- Being easily irritated or having problems with friends and family for no reason
- Withdrawing from close friends and/or family
- Feeling overwhelmed, irritable, frustrated, lacking confidence, unhappy, indecisive, disapointed or sad
If you think that you or someone you know may be experiencing depression, complete the Beyond Blue checklist here, it 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.
Mental health risk factors
A number of overlapping factors may increase your risk of developing a mental health problem. These can include:
- Early life experiences: abuse, neglect, or the loss of someone close to you
- Individual factors: level of self-esteem, coping skills and thinking styles
- Current circumstances: stress at school or work, money problems, difficult personal relationship, or problems within your family
- Biological factors: family history of mental health problems
Looking after your mental health
Here are a number of things you can do to look after and maintain your mental health and wellbeing. For example, many people cope with stress by getting involved with sports, exercising, meditating, or practising yoga or relaxation techniques. Others express themselves through art, such as poetry, writing or music. What you eat might also affect your mood – a well-balanced diet will help keep you both physically and mentally healthy.
If you are concerned about your own or a friend's mental health and wellbeing, headspace is a great place to go for help. Getting support can help you keep on track at school, study or work, and in your personal and family relationships. The sooner you get help the sooner things can begin to improve for you.
The link between good mental health and exercise
Physical exercise is good for our mental health and for our brains. Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals (dopamine and serotonin) in the brain. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking. Exercise can also stimulate other chemicals in the brain (brain derived neurotrophic factors) which help new brain cells to grow and develop. Exercise also seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress.
Any exercise is better than none. A moderate level of exercise seems to work best. This is roughly equivalent to walking fast, but being able to talk to someone at the same time. It's recommended that if you're aged 12-18 you need 60 minutes, or if you're over 18 you need 30 minutes, of moderate physical exercise on most, but preferably all days. This can be done in one 30 minute session or broken up into shorter 10 or 15 minute sessions.
When you're feeling down the last thing you might feel like doing is working out, but studies have suggested that any activity, from walking around the block to yoga to biking could contribute to improving the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Group Chat by HeadSpace here - a Group Chat session is your opportunity to speak anonymously online to our mental health professionals and hear from others about a topic that will be discussed.
- myCompass by Black Dog Institute here - myCompass is free online, interactive self-help program. myCompass is designed to address mild to-moderate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression through personalised treatments delivered entirely online.
- Beyond Blue Online Forums click here
- R U OK resources click here
If you need help now
If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, contact mental health services or emergency services on 000.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
- Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (FREE CALL 24/7)
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Headspace - to learn more, visit www.headspace.org.au
- Black Dog Institute - to learn more, visit www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
- R U OK - to learn more, visit www.ruok.org.au/