How’ would you score your overall health on a scale of 0 to 10, 10 being fabulous and zero being a long way to go? If you then separated your physical health from your mental health (being psychological, emotional and social well-being) how would you score physical and mental health out of 10 sepa-rately? The reason I ask is that many of us focus on our physical health in various ways, the way we eat and exercise for example but it can different when it comes to our mental health.
Tomorrow marks the end of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week in Australia which also included World Mental Health Day on 10th October. Around Australia there have been events to build awareness about the importance of mental well-being and while it would be great if we didn’t need to have an awareness week, clearly it’s needed and here’s why.
2009 statistics from ABS indicated that 1 in 5 Australians between the ages of 16-85 experience mental illness in any year, the most common of these being depression, anxiety and substance use disorders. 45% of Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Even though these statistics give 16 years as the lower end, there are services, Kids Helpline for example, that offer support to children as young as 5 when they’re going through tough or confusing times.
I’m sure there are myriad reasons why 1 in 5 of us might struggle with our mental health at times, life challenges us in many ways or we just become overwhelmed and we’re not always equipped to deal with it but when five year olds are showing signs of stress and anxiety then clearly it’s time for change.
Creating more awareness around mental health in general, finding out who and what can help us im-prove our own psychological, emotional and social wellbeing and how to access services in our community or region is key to making progress. Of equal importance, I believe, is recognising that we all need help sometimes, so reducing any stigma around admitting when we’re not coping and removing any shame we may feel in asking for help is also vital.
A couple of suggestions for you to consider.
National Geographic recently produced an edition called Everyday Mindfulness which is an easy read with lots of helpful information. If you live in Mackay, the Mackay Mental Health and Well-being Community Fair is on today between 11am and 3pm at the Mackay Showgrounds. It offers the opportunity to talk with people who have experienced mental health problems, engage with local support services, find out how to develop and maintain a healthy mind and body, activities to connect men with their community and fun stuff for kids. If you live elsewhere, find out about any local mental health expos or events in your area when they’re on and what they’re all about.
A small investment of your time could make all the difference.