World Mental Health Day Is October 10th, And The Focus Is To Challenge The Negative Perceptions Around Mental Illness And Encouraging People To Take A More Positive View Of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are among the most common health issue around the world. Each year 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness. In Australia that is around 5 million people. And roughly 60% of these people will not seek help.

The Mental Health Stigma

The stigma attached to mental health causes a damaging, albeit ill-informed, attitude, making it more difficult for those affected to pursue help. The best way to deal with this stigma is through facts and a better understanding of mental health problems. From identifying the causes, pinpointing solutions, and ultimately recognising that we are really dealing with medical issues.

  • People experiencing mental illness stigma may feel isolated which can lead to loss of hope and a relapse, or worsening, of their condition.
  • Importantly, it can stop people from seeking help and support, because they fear the reactions of people, they are seeking support from.
  • Stigma makes many people feel ashamed or embarrassed of their mental illness.
  • Part of the reason for negative attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental illness is a lack of knowledge and a fear of the unknown.

How Can We Help?

Helping others relies on good communication. When you meet someone, who wants to talk about their mental illness or symptoms it is important to:

  • be there, listen and be nonjudgemental o choose the right time and place to approach the issue
  • acknowledge what the person is sharing — do not brush it off
  • give the person any information you have on available resources or support.

Be Respectful

Remember that having a mental health problem is just one part of the person. People do not want to be defined by this alone.

Think about the words you use

Words like nutter, crazy and psycho can be offensive and hurtful.

Be Empathic

Helping others relies on open communication, it is important to:

  • be compassionate
  • use body language that shows you are there for them
  • be relaxed and open

Help them seek support

Listen and make them feel they are not alone and that their issue is important. Encourage them to seek help, such as:

  • General practitioner
  • A professional (e.g. psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist)

Give a sense of hope and future

Most people with mental illness lead lives like anyone else, working and participating with family and friends.

The most disabling aspect of mental illness for many is the way they are treated and excluded from those things the rest of the community take for granted.

Even the most serious mental health conditions can be treated.

Our mental wellbeing is the unique way that we handle our emotions, respond to stress and our general outlook on life. Having a healthy sense of mental wellbeing requires many things to be going well for us. It does not matter who you are, where you live or how rich or well educated you are – mental health can and will impact upon YOU! Mental health is everybody’s business.

“WHAT MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS IS MORE SUNLIGHT, MORE CANDOUR, AND MORE UNASHAMED CONVERSATION.”