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Mental Health Day – 10th October

“One big thing though that I want to make clear is that you don’t treat the disease, you treat the person.” – Matt Legge

Taking a moment…

October 10th is world mental health day… and while every day should contain a moment of focus on our health, often we can get caught up in our lives, the everyday aspects and monotony of it; that we can forget to stop and look outside of ourselves, check-in and take a pause to understand that some are fighting invisible battles of their own. Today is the day that this takes full vision and we implement actions and work together to help better the statistics each year on this day.

Chances are we have someone close to us that is affected by a mental illness, we may be aware of it or we may not, but the statistics weigh in with 1 in 5 people suffering from some form/s of mental illness each year and almost 50% of us experience it at some stage in our lives between the ages of early teens to 85.

Where do the stats stack up? In Australia, we have a foundation called “The Black Dog Institute” which keeps the ‘health of the mind’ at the front of our minds and the stats are startling to say the least:

  • 1 in 5 people aged 18-85 will experience a form of mental illness in their lives.
  • The most common forms are Anxiety, Depression and Substance abuse disorders and usually the three combines consecutively over time for that individual while attempting to self-medicate for their illness.
  • The first instance of a mental illness usually starts in the early years of adolescence.
  • Around 54% of people do not reach out for assistance to manage and treat their illness.
  • Around 75% of those who do access treatment make notable positive progress to better assist and manage their illnesses and concerns.
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia for those aged 25-44, contributing to more deaths than Sun Cancer, approximately 6 deaths are recorded a day from suicide in Australia.
  • Men are at the greatest risk of suicide and the figures weigh-in that approximately 75% of all suicidal deaths being men (as at a survey conducted in 2011.) 72% of men do not know how to reach out with their suicidal and mental health concerns or feel like they can’t due to stigmas implanted in their minds that showing emotion is not a strength.
  • Following in those highest at risk are indigenous and rural communities and growing concern for young adolescents.

How can you support someone you care for?

Asking someone if they are ‘ok’ can feel uncomfortable, you may not how to broach the subject. If you can’t that is ok, just always keep in your mind that there are those around you who are fighting battles we can’t see. Understand there are repercussions that may have ripple effects on things you say to others and to be kind always to those around you. Check-in and provide support where possible, even if that is referring to professional outlets that can be a great support network for that person. Mental illness comes in so many forms and its not weak to speak up and seek help!

Some invisible battles those around us are facing daily:

  • Post-Natal Depression.
  • Depression/Clinical depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • OCD.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • ADHD.
  • Bipolar.
  • Personality disorders.
  • Substance abuse/reliance.

Breaking the Stigma!

Diagnosis of mental illness is controversial and there is so much debate about what is classified and what isn’t. Many are very dismissive of the label or stigma that they feel surrounds it so find it hard to seek help, this is why its important to work with the person and not the label only. Everyone will have a different set of circumstances that makes them unique, show that you care and that they aren’t another number or statistic. Provide love and support and offer what you can for services you think may be beneficial for that person. There are so many amazing health professionals that have incredible ways of providing help, guidance, and support.

Its time to break down the stigma around “mental illness” it’s never weak to speak!