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Darren of Average Joe Down Under is back for the latest instalment of our Roller Coaster Series – blogs that contemplate the emotional ups and downs inherent to emigration and return. For his second contribution, Darren opens up about his mental health experiences while living in Australia and how he learned to cope.

Please note that many of the mental resources Darren shares are based in Australia. As a non-profit funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs Emigrant Support Programme, Crosscare Irish Diaspora Support is not able to endorse specific mental health services outside of the emigrant support remit. For emigrant support resources around the world, see the emigrant emotional support resources listed at the conclusion of the article.

Mental Health Roller Coaster

My mental health has always been a roller coaster, I just never knew it.

The thing is when you move to another country alone, all your “demons,” “past traumas,” fears and all these other things come out as you are forced to get to know yourself better and what you want for your life. Looking back at it now, it actually made me who I am today.

The funny thing is that I have lived with a constant state of anxiety, and I would say mild depression, at times on top of homesickness and loneliness. Well, that is a dangerous combination. This coupled with some sort of stress OCD led me down some dark roads at times.

Would I say that I have solved it? No! I would say through recognising my signs and symptoms along with triggers because I sought out support, I am much better and can manage my mental health better in the past to make sure I don’t get on the ‘rollercoaster’ as much.

Here are some triggers I look out for:

  • Stress
  • Family matters
  • Body run down- tired and/or sick
  • Confrontation at work or in my personal life

I am encouraging you that if it comes down to it, you should seek advice and help with a doctor or seek support. I have put together some resources below to help you on your journey. I am so glad I got some help when I needed it.

“Can you accept the notion that once you change your internal state, you don’t need the external world to provide you with a reason to feel joy, gratitude, appreciation, or any other elevated emotion?”

― Joe Dispenza,

If you want, you can check out my post on 7 Tips for Good Mental Health as an Expat.

Support Available

There are so many support options available for Irish abroad in Australia if you need them.

  • Head to Health: Offer free online support and can direct you to the specific care that you need. You can give them a call or use the resources on their website to find out more yourself.
  • Mind Health: Offers free support to people living in the Hunter New England or Central Coast areas. You can call them or chat online if you need support.
  • Better Help: Is an online therapy service. You do have to pay but they match you with the person that best suits your needs and can you do the sessions wherever you feel most comfortable.
  • Mind Spot: Similar to Better Help, Mind Spot is an online therapy platform that will pair you up with a therapist for online sessions.
  • Beyond Blue: Offer calls or online chats with a counsellor to help direct you to the extra mental health support you need.
  • R U OK: Encourages people to stay connected and face difficult conversions. Their website is full of resources to help you ask the question if you feel someone is in need of help.

Mental Health Australia and Find a Help Line have lists of emergency/crisis numbers if you ever need help urgently.

You can also see a doctor and they can do a Mental Health Assessment on you to see what services you may need. This may be able to get you money off future care with a psychologist so it is worth visiting your GP.

About Darren and Average Joe Down Under

Darren Jonathon, founder of Average Joe Down Under, is a dual citizen who decided to move to Australia from Belfast over 12 years ago. Through his Average Joe Down Under blog, podcast, and Instagram, Darren shares tips and advice on everything living down under – from finding a job to navigating the healthcare system. In his ‘honest expat guide,’ shares his own experiences of living in Australia, from the highs to the lows and all the mistakes that cost him dearly, so others do not have to repeat them!

Read his first Roller Coaster series blog on homesickness here.

In addition to the links above, be sure to follow Average Joe Down Under on TikTok and YouTube. You can also join his moving to Australia Facebook group. He has also been featured on the greener fields podcast with Hannah Nash, among other outlets.

Darren of Average Joe Down Under in Sydney, Australia

Emigrant Emotional Support Resources

If you are struggling with mental health, know that you are not alone and there is support available. In addition to the resources Darren references, there are a number of services dedicated to Irish emigrants living abroad, including:

  • Samaritans Ireland operate a number of 24-hour freephone helplines available to Irish people abroad. Provided in partnership with the Government of Ireland through the Emigrant Support Programme, these offer access to culturally sensitive emotional supports to Irish people abroad who are in distress. Contact your local Irish embassy or consulate for additional information
  • Helplink Mental Health is a registered charity that provides a free counselling service online nationwide and internationally for Irish citizens living abroad and returning home. This service is available seven days a week and out-of-hours
  • Global Irish welfare-oriented organisations: Ireland has a vast network of organisations around the world that are dedicated to supporting emigrants. Some offer mental health supports directly or can refer you to appropriate local services. Use our Irish Diaspora Directory to find a group near you

For a more comprehensive overview of these resources, please visit our Minding Yourself page or contact us via our get help form. Our 2023 World Mental Health Day campaign lists additional tips and resources.

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