Mental health has affected the lives of many Australians, both directly or indirectly.
Around one in five Victorians will experience some form of mental illness or disorder in any one year.
This means that nearly half of all Victorians will experience mental illness in their lifetime.
Although the statistics can be confronting, it’s the reality of what many people face today.
A study conducted by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioner shows that patients talk to their GP about mental health more than any other health issue.
This may be for mental health illnesses including depression, anxiety and mood disorders.
Beyond Blue lead clinical advisor and general practitioner Grant Blashki said the research didn’t surprise him.
“We have seen a big change in Australia where people are much more comfortable to talk about mental health,” he said.
Mr Blashki said that people are much more “upfront” about it.
“Talking to a GP can be great because they can look after your physical and mental health together. They get your life a bit more organised so you can re-engage with your everyday activities.”
A report by the Department of Health and Human Services shows that severe mental illness
can impact on a person’s ability to participate in the community and their employment.
“Mental health is not a simple condition. Very often, people’s mental health issues are intertwined with their home life, relationships and their capacity to manage at work. It’s very much tied up to people’s lives,” Mr Blashki said.
In a recent study, Beyond Blue found that one in five Australian employees report that they have taken time off work due to feeling mentally unwell.
This is caused by feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy.
Beth Cunningham works in the media industry and has taken time off work due to mental health-related reasons; however, her employer was unaware of the true reason behind her absence.
“My doctor just put ‘medical reasons’ on the note. There’s still very much a stigma around taking mental health days and it honestly isn’t any of my employer’s business,” Ms Cunningham told the Herald Sun.
“It was to look after my health and that’s all he needed to know.”
She says taking the day off definitely helped.
“I needed time to get my head around the stressful work situation that was going on and the day helped me think about it, get some perspective and come back with some strategies to address it,” Ms Cunningham said.
With mental health week beginning today, it’s important that we create an awareness for it in every aspect of our lives.