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Raising awareness for mental health

24 November, 2014

Mental illness affects how a person thinks, behaves and interacts, and in Australia 1 in 5 people will suffer from a mental illness in any given year. Mental health problems can affect anyone, no matter what age, background, or walk of life they come from, and mental illness is a silent killer in modern society. According to research studies, the average life expectancy of those suffering from a mental illness has proven to be a 10-20 years less than the rest of the population.

Two of the most common forms of mental health issues affecting Australians are depression and anxiety. While these conditions can occur at the same time, they are different in the reaction they cause. However, they are both very common, with depression affecting 1 in 5 people at some stage in their lives and anxiety affecting 1 in 4 people at some point, on average.

There is a strong link between physical and mental health. People with chronic illnesses are more likely to develop a mental illness and, conversely, people with a mental illness are more susceptible to developing a chronic disease. Mental health is therefore an extremely important issue when considering your total health and wellbeing.

Apart from the links to physical illness, those with a mental illness often experience social exclusion. Over 70% of sufferers keep their illness or problems to themselves for fear of judgment by society and peers, which can be a significant inhibitor to raising awareness among the general population.

As mental health issues affect a large proportion of the population, both in Australia and the rest of the world, it is essential that awareness and understanding of mental health issues increase in society. You may have experienced a mental illness yourself, or may know somebody that has been or is currently affected. A greater awareness will contribute to identifying and helping those in need, and breaking down the social stigmas and barriers to support.

October is Mental Health Month, an initiative by the Mental Health Association of New South Wales. It also incorporates Mental Health Week, which is a nationwide initiative and includes World Mental Health Day, which is a global initiative by the World Federation for Mental Health.

This year, Mental Health Month has a theme entitled “beYOUnique”. The idea behind this theme is acceptance and pride in who we are as individuals. This is important as self-esteem has a very large impact on our general wellbeing. Encouraging a celebration of each person’s unique worth and supporting those in our lives will help raise general awareness and positivity around what is fundamentally a serious issue.

With mental health issues being so widespread in the population, it is extremely important to raise awareness, support those around you that are suffering from a mental health problem, and to seek help if you feel you are suffering from any form of mental illness or mental health problem.

CBHS also provides support to those suffering from mental health problems by assisting with the treatment of depression. One CBHS member stated that her husband’s treatment was extremely beneficial for the both of them. She stated that “the personal help with his depression was definitely an advantage”, and was comforted by the fact that she also “had someone to talk to and listen to my opinion”. This reinforces just how much those close to sufferers of depression are impacted by a mental illness, and that this can create a recurring cycle.

However, the largest impact that CBHS was able to have for this couple was their hospital substitute treatment. In this particular case, the patient was able to receive treatment at home and this proved to be the most important aspect in the success of the treatment.

“I can assure you that without CBHS he would not be alive today”.

If you suffer from a mental illness or know someone who does, it is essential that you obtain treatment or even just for support, whether it be from your health fund, a licensed practitioner or one of the many support organisations available in Australia.

Some examples include:

  • Beyondblue - Contact by phone at 1300 22 4636, or visit their website
  • Sane - Contact by phone at 1800 18 7263, or visit their website
  • Lifeline - Contact by phone at 13 11 14, or visit their website
  • Kids Helpline - Contact by phone at 1800 55 1800
  • Mensline - Contact by phone at 1300 748 99 78, or visit their website

If you or anyone you know is experiencing any mental health problems such as depression, there are a multitude of clinical trials that are conducted both in Australian and internationally which could help sufferers. There are a number of organisations that conduct specific research and treatment.

Clinical trials can often address the carers or supporters of sufferers as well as the sufferers themselves. For example, one trial that is currently recruiting participant’s focuses on the prevention of adolescent mental health difficulties through an emotion focused parenting program.

An example of a more direct program for sufferers is being run by the Black Dog Institute, and seeks participants to be involved in a study to test the effects of a non-medication treatment for depression. The World Health Organisation also has a comprehensive program of trials to treat mental health issues.

To find out which organisations are currently running and recruiting for specific clinical trials, you can check:

For more information on how CBHS is available to help you manage a mental health illness, contact our Health & Wellness team on 02 9843 7620 or 02 9685 7567. Alternatively email wellness@cbhs.com.au.  

If you are experiencing a mental health illness, we encourage you to take the time to review your health insurance to ensure you are adequately covered. You can email help@cbhs.com.au to find out if your current level of cover includes psychology or psychology admissions.

Sources: 

  • CBHS Member interview transcript
  • http://apps.who.int/trialsearch/
  • http://www.anzctr.org.au/AdvanceSearch.aspx
  • http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/participateinourresearch/index.cfm 
  • http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140523082934.htm
  • http://www.sane.org/922-australians-encouraged-to-take-care-of-their-mental-and-physical-health

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