For many years, those with mental illnesses have been thought of as crazy, faking it and even silly for not ‘snapping out of it’. This once-taboo subject is finally getting the attention that it deserves. Mental illness is more common than previously thought and people who are suffering from these conditions need help instead of being shunned or blamed.
If you or someone you care about is struggling, you’re not alone. Our goal here is to create mental health awareness and give you information on how to get help.
The Most Common Mental Health Conditions
Mental illness generally occurs between the ages of 18 and 85. Younger children also struggle with mental health problems, usually ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and anxiety.
In Australia, the three most prevalent mental health disorders are anxiety, depression and substance abuse disorders. Women are more prone to both anxiety and depression whereas men are more prone to substance abuse. Men are more likely to commit suicide as well as they are less likely to seek help than women are.
There are many factors that can cause these issues:
Brain health problems
Mental Health Stats
According to the Australian Medical Association:
45% of Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 will experience a mental disorder.
Nearly 64,000 people have a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia.
Around 14% of children aged 14 to 17 experienced a mental health disorder.
The mental healthcare sector is still underfunded with physical healthcare getting priority despite the impact that mental health has on so many lives.
Women and Mental Illness
Check out the gender differences here:
Women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men are.
1 in 4 women will need treatment for depression compared to 1 in 10 men.
Postnatal depression affects between 8 and 15% of women.
A woman's risk of developing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is 20.4% whereas the risk for men is only 8.1%.
Women, in general, have a lot of pressure placed on them due to working either full time or part time (earning a part-time salary is also often a source of stress), taking care of children and older family members, and running their households. That often equates to a lot of stress and very little ‘me’ time.
Women are also more likely to experience abuse both physically and sexually. Past traumatic experiences often cause PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Women also often fear for their safety more. The constant stress and possible hormonal imbalances all increase the risk of anxiety.
What Can You Do?
First off, if you are struggling to cope, get help. There is no shame in doing this. If you can't afford a private psychologist or psychiatrist, you can get help here:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Churches, synagogues, and mosques often have counsellors and/or clergy that you can speak to.
Your family GP can provide discounted access to allied health professionals, through the Mental Health Care Plan.
If the above options are unable to provide you with the help you need, they will be able to refer you to the correct people.
More Tips to Improve Mental Health
It can be hard to take care of yourself or a loved one suffering from a mental health disorder. If you are the primary caregiver of children or other elderly or ill family members, taking time out to help yourself can inspire feelings of guilt. But bear in mind that you can't help in the way that they need if you are struggling due to health problems.
With that said:
Make time to relax and do something that you enjoy whether it's art, sitting in the garden, or spending time with your friends and family.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and if you eat meat make sure it's lean, preferably free range and that you include some fish).
Exercise - walk, swim, jog, dance, weight train, do some gardening, or do yoga. Pick an activity that you enjoy and aim to do it 3-5 days a week.
As humans, we are complex. We can be physically healthy but if our mind struggles, we are lowering our overall health. Reach out for help. There are people who care and will help you. If you are a counselor or therapist, consider volunteering your services.
Together we can break the stigma surrounding mental health problems. We can each do our part, whether it's being proactive about our own health or helping those who need help.