Mental Health Awareness
Mental Health is defined by the World Health Organisation as:-
“a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Mental Health is about wellness rather than illness. Focusing on the good rather than the not so good.
Nevertheless, Mental Health illness is real. There is no form of immunization. However there are support networks in place within your community to guide you from the not so good to the good. There is much that can be done and together, we can assist each other to live a better, more enjoyable life.
Around 20% of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 experience some form of Mental Health issue each year, whilst around 45% of all Australians will experience some form of Mental Health illness in their lifetimes. Mental Health issues in 2018 are being more openly recognized, treated and accepted throughout the global community.
So please remember, you are not alone, seek help. There is no shame in seeking treatment for Mental Health issues. Most people are initially reluctant to seek treatment for several reasons, including lack of understanding by friends, family and work colleagues, the fear of discrimination, bullying, losing your job or even physical violence. Also please remember, it is the people perpetrating these discriminatory reactions, mainly due to a lack of understanding the issues, who are the ones that are out of touch with society, not you for openly recognising the symptoms.
The first step is to understand and acknowledge the symptoms. Once you acknowledge the symptoms, you can overcome the stigma and seek treatment. When you commence comfortably speaking openly about Mental Health, the path will become a far easier walk.
To avoid STIGMA attached to a Mental Health issue:-
– seek treatment
– avoid allowing stigma to create self doubt or shame
– avoid isolating yourself
– disassociate yourself from your illness, ie, say “I have Bipolar Disorder” not,” I am Bipolar”
– join a support group
– speak openly about stigma
The next step is to make an appointment with your GP, thoroughly explain your situation, and your GP will then refer you to a Mental Health Care professional who will then complete a full assessment, then guide you comfortably and supportively through overcoming your issues.
Types of Mental Health Issues
With most Mental Health conditions, there are similar symptoms contained within. The words “a lot of the time” and “for no obvious reason” appear in many of the list of symptoms for most Mental Health illnesses. So if you feel you are behaving unusually “a lot of the time” and “for no obvious reason”, then you may be showing symptoms of a Mental Health illness.
Anxiety is a medical condition characterized by persistent, excessive worry.
Clinical depression is a medical condition that significantly affects the way someone feels causing a persistent lowering of mood.
People with Bipolar Disorder suffer dramatic mood swings, from euphoric or manic highs, to extreme or manic lows (depression). This is one area of Mental Health which is not fully understood and the causes not completely known, nonetheless, it is treatable.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is an anxiety disorder. People living with OCD are troubled by recurring unwanted thoughts, images or impulses, as well as obsessions and repetitive rituals. They are generally aware that their symptoms are irrational and excessive, but find them uncontrollable and irresistible.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a form of anxiety disorder which is developed following a traumatic event in a person’s life. This event may be a serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war, natural disaster such as a bushfire or flood. In most cases, feelings of fear, helplessness, horror, anger or sadness will pass in time given appropriate support from friends, family of community groups.
Eating disorders are a complex metal illness characterized by disturbed eating behavior, distorted beliefs and extreme concerns about food, eating, body size and weight. Eating Disorders are NOT a lifestyle choice, they can be fatal, however again, they are treatable.
Psychosis is a mental disorder where a person loses the capacity to differentiate between what is real and what is not. Psychosis often occurs as part of or a symptom of another mental illness and is fully treatable.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness which disrupts the functioning of the human mind. It causes intense episodes of Psychosis involving delusions and hallucinations and long periods of depression, lack of motivation and functioning. Schizophrenia is treatable.
Drugs And Alcohol
The abuse of drugs and alcohol are generally symptomatic of another issue such as domestic violence, depression, anxiety or maybe some other Mental Health illnesses. Once the root problem is discovered, the substance abuse can be overcome.
Suicide is also symptomatic of other issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence, depression or anxiety. Again, once the real illness is discovered, suicidal thoughts can be easily eradicated.
Women rate higher than men in experiencing such Mental Health issues as Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and Eating Disorders. Women also have to cope with pregnancy, whether wanted or unwanted, monthly cycles and menopause. Discussing these issues with a Mental Health professional can help woman cope and live a happier healthier life.
There are many modern treatments utilized by Mental Health professionals to assist you to overcome Mental Health illnesses. Some conditions are simply treated by discussing the problem or being involved with a Community Support Group, others with specific modeling such Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Some people are treated with antidepressant or antipsychotic medication. If Mental Health issues become serious, some people may be hospitalized and receive treatment whilst in Care.
If you answer “a lot of the time” and “for no obvious reason” to any of the types of Mental Health conditions described above, please contact your GP and seek his advice. If you have a friend or relative who you feel may react unusually “a lot of the time” and “for no obvious reason”, please talk with them, let them know they are not alone and there are Support Groups in place that can assist in turning their life around and start to feel good about themselves again.
If you are experiencing a personal crisis, please call Lifeline now on 13 11 14