Mental health issues are medication conditions that change a person's thinking, feelings and/or behaviour; this can make managing daily life difficult.
Mental health has only recently begun to be taken seriously by the general public and there is still a great deal of stigma surrounding people living with mental illness. This is really unwarranted as almost half of the Australian population will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives. The reluctance of people to disclose their mental health issues can be due to this stigma which ensures that people continue to suffer in silence.
Mental illnesses can range from the manageable to the severe; some may need medication or hospitalisation while others can be controlled through psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. The causes of most mental health conditions still aren’t clear but what is known is that they cause a physical chemical imbalance in the brain. They can be triggered by past and present trauma and stress and there is research that suggests there can be genetic links as well, just like any other hereditary family condition.
Where to seek help for mental health issues
Your GP puts the general into General Practitioner. They have knowledge on a vast range of medical conditions, can suggest strategies for your problems, help you implement a mental health plan, refer you to external services and prescribe medication, if you need it. Visiting your GP is the first step on your journey to recover your health and they will continue to support you even if you're also seeing a counsellor or psychiatrist.
GPs have knowledge on a vast range of medical conditions so they can suggest strategies for your problems, help you implement a mental health plan, refer you to external services and prescribe medication, if you need it.
Your psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor
A psychiatrist is a doctor who has trained in general medicine and also specialised in the further study on psychiatry for at least five extra years whereas a psychologist has completed four years of undergraduate study and then either two years of supervised experience or a postgraduate clinical masters or doctoral degree in clinical psychology. Professional counsellors must have studied at least a Diploma of Counselling.
In addition to providing the same types of therapy services that a psychologist or counsellors can, a psychiatrist is also able to prescribe medication due to their medical training. A psychologist might employ techniques like cognitive behaviour therapy where the focus is on working with the client to change the way they think about the issues that are affecting them. With a counsellor, together you will explore your emotions and reactions to the stressful issues in your life while trying to reflect on things more clearly.
A telephone or online counselling service
There are a number of free and confidential telephone and online counselling services provided by organisations such as Life Line, Sane, 1800 Respect and Men's Referral Service. Many are available 24 hours a day.
These counselling services can help you get clarity on whatever is bothering you in the short term; sometimes you just need to unload your problems on someone who doesn’t know you and won’t judge you. They can also give information and provide referrals to services in your area that can help you going forwards.
Informational and self help websites
Not sure about the different types of mental illness, the symptoms and available treatments? These websites will point you in the right direction and also provide tips on how to look after your health and wellbeing even if you don’t have a mental illness.
Your friends and family
The people that you feel safe and comfortable with and can surround yourself with in times of crisis.
These are the people that know you best and also have your best interests at heart. Having a wide and varied support network is a great way to fend off the feelings of isolation and helplessness that can accompany mental illness. Having a chat with someone close to you can relieve stress and brighten your day.
The ones that are always happy to see you when you walk through the door, even if it’s just because they’re hungry.
Pets can provide comfort in tough times just by being close to you and the responsibility of looking after them can give meaning to your life when things are looking bleak. Pets can also encourage you to be active and research has shown the positive effect they have on their owner’s physical health and wellbeing.
The place you pay money to every month while struggling with the guilt of not going.
Even moderate exercise can have an impact on your mood and feelings of wellbeing. If the gym’s not your thing, try a walk around the block. Getting into the routine of an activity can be hard at first but the fresh air will leave you with a clear head.
The local that stocks all your favourite snacks.
While it sounds like something that your elders would tell you, a healthy diet can also really help with a healthy mind. Aiming for including more fresh fruit and vegetables in your meals boosts the supply of nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential for the good health of your insides. Don’t you feel better after eating and apple than a whole pizza?