Did you know that one in five Australians are affected by mental illness?
Unfortunately, many of us don’t seek help because of stigma.
What is mental illness?
Mental illness is a general term for a group of illnesses that affect the mind or brain.
These illnesses, which include bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety and personality disorders, affect the way a person thinks, feels and acts.
The exact cause of mental illness is unknown. What is known is that mental illness is not a character fault, weakness or something inherently ‘wrong’ with a person.
It is an illness like any other.
Mental illness is very common
One in five Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year.
The most common mental illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance use disorder.
Mental health or physical health?
Historically, mental health and physical health were separated. Currently, we understand that mental health and physical health are interconnected.
If we’re in pain, we could be distressed, anxious or depressed. If we have a panic attack, we might have difficulty exercising, sleeping or relaxing.
Whatever the primary health issue and its severity, other health factors often come into play.
There are many ways our health and well-being can be supported, including:
- Breath work
- Social connection
Is mental illness treatable?
Yes, mental illness can be treated. Many people who have mental illness can recover completely while others manage their illness very well.
The most important step is to seek help. See your GP in the first instance.
How to get help
A GP can provide treatment or refer you to a specialist, like a psychologist, for extra help. Note, however, that you don’t need a referral to see a psychologist.
Effective treatments are available and early identification and care can reduce harm and improve quality of life. If you’re uncertain or nervous about speaking to one of our GPs, you’re welcome to take a friend or family member with you.
Let your GP know if you’re getting help from anyone else, such as other doctors, self-help groups, family and friends, or natural therapists.
Remember to provide your GP with your full list of medications (including over-the-counter medications, vitamins and natural therapies). Also, ask your GP for a general health check to see what else might be adding to the way you feel.
Raising awareness for mental health
October is Mental Health Awareness Month.
To help support the mental health of you and those around you, Black Dog Institute has come up with 10 different ways you can take action this October. That’s because there’s no single path to creating a mentally healthier world.
In addition to Black Dog Institute, organisations including Headspace, Beyond Blue and Dementia Australia provide evidence-based information, support, advice and research on a wide range of mental health-related issues.
We’re here for you every day
If you need help, please make a booking with us. We’re open 7 days a week to give you all the support you need.
Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.