Hope spelled out with a green ribbon as the o

October is Mental Health Month in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. Mental Health Month is an opportunity to raise awareness around mental health and wellbeing. Thursday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The link between mental health and disability is clear and goes both ways. 

Mental Illness is very common, with one in five Australians aged 16 – 85 experiencing a mental illness in any year. Even in the year 2019, it is still a subject that some people just don’t want to talk about. Overcoming the stigma of mental illness is something that as a society we need to work towards. Stigma is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a distinguishing characteristic or personal trait that is thought to be a disadvantage.

Stigma discourages people from seeking help. Like most health problems, mental illness is easier to treat if diagnosed and recognised early. Stigma also makes recovery harder. Mental wellbeing has a lot to do with staying active and engaged, living in a contributing life and feeling accepted by others as part of the community. The more involvement that you have in your community the better you feel generally.

Stigma causes and encourages discrimination. Fear and ignorance about mental illness contribute to discrimination, making it harder for people with a mental illness to find work, a place to live and to just be accepted as a member of society. People have been treated as less competent or capable after revealing that they have a mental illness.

Psychosocial disability is a term used to describe a disability that may arise from a mental health issue.

Not everyone who has a mental health condition will have a psychosocial disability, but for people who do, it can be severe, longstanding and impact on their recovery. People with a disability as a result of their mental health condition may qualify for the NDIS. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is designed to support people with disability to increase their independence and fully participate in community and working life. You can find information and resources on mental health and the NDIS on the NDIS website. 

The NDIS is designed to work alongside other systems, that is, it is not designed to replace all the other funded services that Governments may provide. So, according to the NDIA, typically, for a person with psychosocial disability, they may well have a funded plan with supports from the NDIS but they would be involved with other services such as clinical mental health services or community mental health services.

Battling stigma in mainstream society is one of the biggest challenges for both mental health service providers and for people with mental illness and psychosocial disability. Stigma causes isolation, the fear of negative attitudes and community misunderstanding can cause people to withdraw from society. The less interaction with others only leads to loneliness and makes it harder for people to cope with the symptoms of mental illness, or to seek help.

hands cupping a line drawing of a brain in the sunlight

Social isolation and withdrawal discourage people from sharing their stories which reduces the communities awareness in general.

The effects on family and friends are often unrecognised. It can be very upsetting to see a person that you care for going through something that you feel you cannot help with.

Stigmatising attitudes make society harsher and less considerate or supportive of people affected by mental illness.

Mental Health awareness is represented by a green ribbon, so wear something green this October to support Mental Health Awareness. The colour green was used to label people who were considered insane in the 1800s.

Things that you can do to help support someone with mental illness:

  1. Make a Promise to be more aware
  2. Help someone seek support
  3. Write down your concerns
  4. Support someone in your life
  5. Listen

 

The Blue Tree Project

Have you seen a blue tree? Well, The Blue Tree Project is a movement standing up for mental health, many people have now joined the movement and have painted a dead tree blue with "R U OK?" written on it. This is to help raise awareness in the regional communities. What a fantastic idea. If you come across a blue tree you know why and can stop and take a photo of the tree in support of mental health awareness.

Image of a dead tree painted blue standing in barren dry paddock.

The more awareness we can create around depression and other mental health illness’s hopefully it will make people realise it’s not a bad thing to talk about your problems with someone. How many lives are lost each year because people will not ask for help when they truly need it.

Always take time out to check on your mates and your family members, you might just ask someone are they ok at the right time.

If you or someone you know needs help call:

  • Emergency on 000 (or 112 from a mobile phone)
  • Headspace on 1800 650 890
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Text 0477 13 11 14
  • Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service 1800 011 046
  • Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

There is a lot of help now available out there please be aware that not everyone is ok and coping with life.


You may also find the following article helpful.

National Crisis Numbers


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