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{ Blog Action Day 2014 } Inequality In The Australian Mental Health System #inequality

Blog Action Day 2014 #INEQUALITY

Inequality In The Australian Mental Health System

DID YOU KNOW... 45% of all Australian Adults have experienced mental illness but...
less than half receive the help they need.

Source: ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation - Stats: March 2014

That's 45 p.e.r.c.e.n.t.....!!

Yet Australia is known and labelled "The Lucky Country"! Sorry if 45% of adults Australians have suffered mental illness and more than half haven't received help, that doesn't make me think of "lucky" at all...

That's a staggering statistic isn't it? I mean, that's nearly HALF the Australian population...! Yet the Australian Mental Health system is so far behind that even by 2027 the current system will require at least... get this... 8,800 additional mental health professionals at a cumulative cost of $9 billion to Australia!! (Source: Crossroads ReachOut.com PDF)

I'm confused, we can send people into space but we can't help people who are struggling with mental illness? Hmm.... priorities...

Where are our priorities Australia...??? 

I'm not a politically focused person to be honest. I vote when I have to. I make my decisions based on the information they spew at us through the TV set, Radio, Internet and in public displays. Don't get me wrong, I have met some very inspirational and authentic politicians, we even talked about our own experiences with mental health. I love the fact that there are poli's out there that really do want to help people. I don't favour any one Party (that's annoying I know!) people hate that I'm sure. But I think on both sides there are positive plans, just wish they could all meet on common ground sometimes. Like on, Mental Health....

I digress... 

I call myself an Independent Ambassador for Mental Health & Wellbeing on the basis that I know I have created great influence as a changemaker as I've been told by those I speak to.

My family suffer and we have lost our mother to mental illness through suicide and I am a mental health patient on the road to recovery.

So I take great pride in sharing with you that I am currently applying for a Volunteer Ambassador role within BeyondBlueMy humble hope is that the ripple effect from me and others like me and organisations can bring our mental health system to where it needs to be for the people in this country!

Circa 1976-1977: This is a photo of me on the left (roughly 2.5/3 yrs old), my sister about 18 months roughly and... my dear Mother, Coril aged about 30/31 here. Within 6-9 months after this photo was taken.... my mother took her own life, leaving 4 young children from 6 months to 5 years of age, due to mental illness in June 1978.

My aim is to represent and be the champion for mothers of Australia who aren't ready to stand up and speak out and have a voice on mental health. With Inspiring Mums, this has been a wonderful platform for the last 5 years to share, connect and communicate openly about mental health and show support and indeed receive support and of course provide daily inspiration to be inspired for life! 

I'll never forget being told that my mother had been given electric shock therapy and lithium while being institutionalised for Post-Natal Depression (PND). Thirty odd years ago, they didn't understand or know much about PND and our family believe she was misdiagnosed as a Schizophrenic as the PND turned into a psychosis.

BUT.... fast forward to now.... we do have so much more knowledge now, treatment etc. but lack of professionals to help us!

For example:

Let's say there is a mother (or anyone for that matter!) who was experiencing psychosis, voices, suicidal thoughts, self harm and severe depression from grief or other issues (much like my mum) and you have to tell them that there is a 8 week wait for mental health services?

That someone is on a knifes edge of life and death and there's no help from the system for 8 or more weeks because of the lack of professional help to support the growing demand of mental health patients? This can not be happening in this day and age!

Even in the unlikely event of a successful resolution to both financial and demographic challenges, this model is based only on a doubling of the number of people getting help and support – leaving one third of all Australians with mental health issues still without the assistance and services they need.
— Quote from the Crossroads Report | ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation | March 2014

So Where's the INEQUALITY in the Australian Mental Health System?

This blog post is on the topic of inequality and I have chosen to cover this on the Australian Mental Health System because I have been a mental health patient, as have my family members and many friends and connections I know and I see inequality in the:

Source: ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation

Source: ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation

  • Stigma associated with having a mental illness in general.
  • Lack of Help & Support from the mental health system with lack of professionals in the system.
  • Inequality in the workplace for sufferers of mental illness being treated equality to other staff members.
  • Communications on Social media that breed all kinds of triggers for mental illness especially in the young, including: cyber bullying and displays of self harm, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse.

I admit that I have been almost frightened into not sharing my own mental illness challenges publicly for the fear of the stigma taking over and losing my credibility and stability in my community and it impacting the reputation I have worked hard for years to create and maintain.

While I am happy to share my vulnerability and weaknesses to be more "Real" I simply feel that some of my peers in business could treat me differently or with inequality because I am on antidepressants for Anxiety & Panic Disorders, as well as OCD and mood fluctuations.

The stigma and inequality I am concerned is not only the unbalanced nature of the mental health system in Australia, which is based on the recent credible "Crossroads" Report and research by ReachOut.com Inspire Foundation, but also how I would be treated by sharing such personal information on my own mental illness challenges. It's almost as though you have no right to smile, be happy, do business, work, go places or be part of everyday life and be considered stable if you say you have a mental illness.

Because the lack of support from professionals in the mental health system, the support is slow, lacking and continues to breed the inequality for many of us trying to simply live life like everyone else!

Anxiety: Get to know anxiety: Hot and Cold Flushes

Source: beyondblue YouTube

If you have depression, anxiety, panic disorders, OCD,  post-natal depression, post trauma, personality disorders or other mental health illnesses, there is a stigma associated with it and it's unfair. It can affect your work life, your relationships, family, business and send you right back to square one. I waited 6 weeks for my first and most recent Psychologist this year. As I have been on anti-depressants for over 1 year I was able to have it covered by Medicare. Which hats off is great, because I really needed to talk to someone completely out of my inner and outer circles without feeling like a complete loon!

The catalyst for me going back to the shrink (I say that with utter respect!) this time was because of severe nightmares about car accidents and people dying. It was extremely upsetting, I would wake up in cold sweets, I felt like they were 'real' occurrences, that I was to blame for them and that I felt like I was living the grief and post trauma of hurting others in this way. But of course none of it was real, I had a car accident 6 years ago and I get flash backs and very anxious on the road at times. It's part of the healing process. That's why I am on medication, to manage the hot anxious sweats, the dreams and panic attacks on the road, especially as I drive my precious cargo (my family) around, I need to feel more at ease and safer on the road. I do it to ensure we stay alive.

By 2020, depression will be the #1 cause of disability worldwide.
— World Health Organisation

I feel that I am at a point where I am unemployable by a company because of how I could be treated by disclosing this to them. Hence why I work for myself. The inequality and stigma attached is too much for me to bare and I should autonomy over anything else. It means I am not being judges, singled out, treated differently, or even adding to the mental health illness I already have. I don't want to have to qualify or justify and explain myself, but on the other hand I feel I do. Where's the equality in that?

I'm a mental health patient and I am alive because I have taken the steps to get things more level to co-exist in society and in my family. It isn't about suppressing emotions and I'm not a lunatic, I am not a danger to myself or anyone else because I have some treatment in place. For those who can't get into the system to be seen or heard could suffer a similar fate as my mother. Considering the statistics of nearly half of the Adult Australian population has experienced mental illness, our Government, community, organisations need to work together to make this a more fair, equal and accessible mental health system in Australia and set the standard for other countries to follow suit. 

Be the leader in Mental Health Australia! Set the standards high, look after your people and I am sure you would reap the benefits of your efforts. Make it a place where you don't hide your mental health challenges, but speak up, have a voice and remove the inequality, we are people too! 

Struggling? Here's Where to go for help! (Australia)

beyondblue

www.beyondblue.org.au

beyondblue is the national initiative to raise awareness of anxiety and depression, providing resources for recovery, management and resilience.


Mind Australia - Need Help? Turn to Mind.

www.mindaustralia.org.au

Mind Australia is a leading provider of community mental health services. We support people to live connected, productive and satisfying lives.


Black Dog Institute

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

    The Black Dog Institute is a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.


    PANDA Post and Antenatal Depression Association

    www.panda.org.au

    Speaking with PANDA's counsellors and trained volunteers is confidential and open to women and men as well family and friends. Ongoing follow up calls for counselling and support are usually provided. PANDA's helpline is available in Australia from 10am to 5pm (AEST) Monday to Friday.  1300 726 306


    SANE

    www.sane.org

    SANE Australia, the National Mental Health Charity. Helping all Australians affected by mental illness lead a better life.


    ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation

    www.inspire.org.au

    ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation. Est. 1998, we've been delivering Australia's leading youth mental health service, making it easy for young...


    Headspace

    www.headspace.org.au

    Government established National Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing mental and health wellbeing support, information and services to young people ...


    heather

    Thank you for taking the time to read this Blog Action Day 2014 Post on #Inequality. I hope you have found it educational, engaging and helpful.

    Writing is my therapy :) xx

    Heather James
    Inspiring Mums
    ®, Australia
    www.inspiringmums.com.au