Until recently, suffering from a mental illness was kept secret. Families walked around with a hidden shame. Today, more than ever, there is discussion about suicide, depression, anxiety and all forms of mental illness.
Australia, in general, has supported awareness campaigns and funded Medicare sessions for psychologists. There is a lot more they could do and funding cuts never help but overall, we should be grateful that on an individual level we can talk to others and access resources.
An interesting point that emerged from the Q&A panel on ABC TV on Monday night, was that the use of the word resilience was not helpful. Some people thought that resilience (the ability to bounce back from adversity) was “good” and showed strength. People who suffer from anxiety and depression are not resilient and are therefore “weak” and not showing good coping.
While some audience members asked for a definition of resilience, and skills on how to develop it, others felt that it minimised the impact and severity of depression.
I agree. We must be careful not to compare apples with oranges. People who suffer from depression are not the same as a regular person who is having a bad day. Depression is an illness and can inflict anybody at any time. Depression can reduce the hardiest person to an unmotivated, pessimistic, self- deprecating lump.
- There is no shame in having depression or anxiety. 1 in 5 people in Australia are known to suffer from a mental illness.
- Some people are more at risk than others including family members, Aboriginals, homosexuals and farmers in remote areas.
- Educate yourself about depression and anxiety so that you can identify symptoms in yourself and others.
- Seek help as soon as possible. You do not need to fight your mental health issue alone.
- Be an advocate for more resources. If you lobby MP’s, then we have a chance of getting more services.
- When you feel well, that is the time to work on resilience. This can mean being able to slow down when necessary, building support networks when possible, learning how to cultivate hope and gratitude and finding meaning in your life.