Opinion

Focusing on mental health

By Shepparton News

As Mental Health Week comes to an end for another year, it is important to remember that awareness and education need to be a part of the conversation every day.

Although significant efforts are being made towards mental health services and wellbeing support in our region, it is vital that prevention is prioritised.

According to The Black Dog Institute, one in five Australians between the ages of 16 and 85 will experience a mental illness in any year and almost half (45 per cent) of the Australian population will experience mental health issues in their lifetime.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged 25 to 44 and the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24.

It is staggering to know Australians are more likely to die by suicide than skin cancer, yet there is an apparent lack of knowledge and education surrounding the processes that lead to suicide and the ability to effectively intervene.

As local mental health expert Jenny O’Connell has said, deeper levels of connection are needed, especially from an early age.

Our community has many organisations and groups working hard to fight the stigma and create an understanding of the needs and experiences of people with mental illness and their families.

During Mental Health Week, The News spoke with several people currently experiencing mental health issues, who said speaking up about their illness and sharing their story really helped with not only their own treatment but also inspired others to share in their journey towards mindfulness and wellbeing.

Fifty-four per cent of people with mental illness currently do not access any treatment for their symptoms and the proportion of people with mental illness accessing treatment is half that of people doing so for physical disorders.

It is important we realise that although mental illness is not a health problem that we can physically see, it is an illness nonetheless, touching the lives of many in our community and across the country.

Let’s continue the conversation every day and eradicate the stigma associated with these disorders.

If you or someone you know needs support or suicide prevention services, phone Lifeline on 131114.