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Mental Health Week

October 10 marks ‘World Mental Health Day.’ This is a day to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and raise awareness.

1 in 5 people in Australia suffer from a mental health problem and more than ever it is seen as a weakness in life.

What people don’t realise is that mental health problems like depression, anxiety, Bipolar disease and schizophrenia can affect anyone at any time. It crosses all domains in life, affecting men and women equally. It has no respect for race or position in society. And these conditions don’t discriminate. Whether you are a Postman, Boilermaker, Judge or doctor, it doesn’t matter; everyone and anyone can be affected.

So why suffer? I know people don’t choose to do that, but often people are afraid of these feelings (often dark negative feelings), and are afraid to ask for help. What they don’t realise is that with guidance and therapy, anyone can regain the control they desire in life and live again. And ‘therapy’ doesn’t always mean ‘pills’. As a doctor, I do not believe all mental health problems can be ‘fixed’ that way. Everyone is unique and deserves a tailored approach to their care.

Those with more complicated mental health problems often need increased support for both their physical and mental health. There are simple measures that people can control and put in place, with support, that will improve their quality of life and help them to live a longer, more contented life.

Associated with World Mental Health day, politicians and Australian public figures are ‘making promises’ to help reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems, so that it is easier for those who need it to ask for help. This is also aimed at raising awareness of the need for people to look out for one another.

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So, I encourage people to seek help. Don’t be afraid. No-one has to suffer. If you know someone who you think needs support, suggest that they access their doctor or psychologist for guidance about how to begin to make a positive step towards better mental health. In doing so, we can all help to challenge the stigma associated with mental illness, through encouraging greater discussion and awareness.

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