THIS week there has been a significant focus on issues surrounding the mental health and wellbeing of Australia’s 25-plus million residents, highlighted by yesterday’s RUOK? Day, and that’s a good thing.
Our mental health report card makes for some sobering and thought provoking consideration, but the conversation needs to be had, and it need to be shared.
In 2016, almost 2870 Australians took their own life, a figure more than double our national road toll.
And for each reported suicide in Australia, it’s estimated another 30 people try to take their own lives.
About 10 per cent of our population lives with anxiety, almost half of our population will be impacted by a mental health condition at some stage in our lives, yet 65 per cent of those people affected by a mental health condition never accesses treatment.
Mental health, or more precisely, the stigmas surrounding mental health have started to wither in recent times, but there’s a lot more work ahead for our governments, our health agencies and our counselling and support services before we can be satisfied that everything that can be done to improve the way we recognise, treat and even prevent mental health issues from occurring in an increasingly complex and challenging society.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and the two are closely linked.
As a community we need to do a lot more work around raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing, and recognising this fact has been a positive step in the right direction.
Thankfully, in recent years the protocols around reporting of mental health issues have improved dramatically, and there’s a lot more resources and education available to assist the media in its role, but more importantly there’s been a significant increase in funding for mental health resources and support services for the broader community.
But there’s a lot more work to be done.
It would be easy to dismiss events like RUOK? Day as one of those initiatives that occupies an increasingly crowded events and initiatives calendar that comes and goes each year.
But this isn’t like World Left Handed Day, International Star Wars Day or World Beer Drinkers’ Day.
And, there can be few issues as serious or important as our mental health and wellbeing.
RUOK? Day is a reminder for everyone that we don’t need to be experts to ask our mates, our family or our work colleagues how they’re going or if they need to talk about a particular problem or concern.
We just need to care, and caring could change a life, it could even save a life.
For support at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 131114.