Recognising the signs and getting support.
by Blair Ansford
This Mental Health Week, I would like to reflect on the extraordinary past year and a half with the advent of the global pandemic affecting us all and impacting on our mental health. The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, especially the misinformation conveyed on social media can increase feelings of discomfort and stress. In such times it is normal to have some feelings of anxiety and even feelings of low mood, commonly known as depression. Research suggests that even before the pandemic, one in five Australians may suffer from a common mental illness such as depression, anxiety or even substance use disorder, yet many do not receive the treatment or support that they need to recover well.
Knowing the signs of possible mental health problems and how to access support are key in helping people to overcome these barriers to get the help they need. We all have some idea of what anxiety and depression feel like. Anxiety can have us worrying constantly about things both large and small, make us feel physically ill, and often cause us to avoid the things that make us feel this way. Signs of depression include not only constant feelings of sadness but can also include not being able to enjoy anything, so much so that people stop participating in life, everything becomes too much effort.
While brief episodes of depression or anxiety happen to us all, when these feelings become persistent, lasting more than a couple of weeks and cause us constant distress making it difficult to live our lives then we should seek help. Getting help early minimizes the risk of these symptoms developing into a more serious mental health problem, and can help us get back on our feet. If you are worried that this may be you, then make an appointment with your GP to discuss your mental health.
There are also some wonderful organisations here in Australia who can offer support:
“The experience I have had is that once you start talking about [experiencing a mental health struggle], you realize that actually you’re part of quite a big club”. — Prince Harry