Mental health is something that many of us take for granted until we or someone we care about crashes. As a society we see advertisements about physical health issues all the time, in fact some of them might lead to mental health issues due to poor body imagines, but rarely mental health ads.
In Australia mental health is rarely discussed. Being a country that prides itself on it’s sense of ‘manliness’ and a general feeling that if you are feeling bad you should toughen up. According to Government data in 2009 (latest I could find) someone commits suicide in Australia every 4 hours, with men being four times likely as women. The figures are likely under reported unfortunately and lives can be wrecked when without suicide.
Way back in 1990 I was impacted by this when my father took his own life. I come home from school one day and found the car running in the garage and a note in the kitchen. I have some understanding of the impact such an event can have on the people left behind. As a Catholic family we also had the issue of the church preferring not to hold the funeral, they did in the end but suicide is considered a sin.
Mental health and wellbeing is at the centre of true happiness and being able to live your life. There is much that still isn’t know about how to treat this but there are medications that can help balance people out, especially if they suffer from a bipolar disorder.
The fact is there are probably people in your life who suffer from manic depression and you probably do not even know due to the feeling of shame some people in this situation feel and how they try to hide it. You can appear to be successful financially but in reality that is a false front as spiritually and mentally you are suffering. Material things appear to mean little in this area other than they can cause stress and isolation (excessive workloads for example getting in the way of family and friends).
Luckily awareness is growing that it is not always just a weakness that an individual has to suck up and get over by themself. There are organisations that help people suffering and help those around them understand the condition. Beyond Blue is an Australian organisation I believe who are worth supporting and checking out their website, especially for signs and symptoms to look out for;
There have been points in my life were depression has been very real to me and for which I’ve needed help. I’ve been fortunate that I had support. I’m sure with the privileged life I live including travel, career and wealth I wouldn’t seem likely to be effected.
The worse aspect of mental health issues however is those needing help are usually the ones least able to see that or even have access to services. We can all help however by talking about our experiences, by looking out for those around us who might be suffering and supporting organisations and governments who are addressing this issue. The manly approach doesn’t work. As a people I truly believe we are at our best when we support each other and keep judgment to a minimum.
Let’s support people and try to minimise the very real costs denying mental health issues.