21 March 2017

Challenging the taboo of mental health issues

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Mental health issues are now so widely common around Australia that almost half of Australia’s population will at some point in their life experience a mental health-related condition.

One in five will experience a mental illness in any given year. This has made mental health issues one of Australia’s most common illnesses.

For long, mental health issues have been considered taboo, and to some extent, still are. They have not been recognised as proper illnesses, but rather, a personality trait.
For women, suffering from for example depression or anxiety, has often been blamed on the women’s “frail and overemotional nature”, and in some areas and cultures, this is still the case. On the other hand, men have been urged (forced?) not to suffer from any mental health conditions, as it would make them seem weak.

We still have a long way to go, but the more we talk about mental health, and the more open we become about our own wellbeing, the better we will become at managing mental health issues.

It almost seems too basic to be mentioned, but the first recognition of mental health issues needs to come from the government and our own health care system.  If our own doctors, nurses and politicians aren’t prioritising mental health illnesses, who else will?

Australia’s ongoing health reforms are aimed at putting the patient first. The new health system is meant to focus on the patient’s needs, rather than the patient having to fit their needs into what the health care system has to offer.

These new reforms are also expected to improve the way people with mental health conditions are being treated and supported. It’s meant to become easier to receive support, easier to navigate your way through the system.

However, mental health has often been given the least funding. It’s been seen as the least important, something that’s often been forgotten or swept under the carpet within organisations. Let’s hope this is changing.

Let’s end the taboo and stigma surrounding mental health issues and give it the focus and prioritising it needs.

Hear more on the mental health reform and how your organisation can implement new mental health policies and frameworks to improve consumer outcomes from thought leaders in the space at Akolade's National Mental Health Forum, being held in Sydney on the 30th May-1st June 2017.

Written by: Mimmie Wilhelmson

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

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