“Be a mirror for the light rather than a sponge for the darkness” – Gabby Bernstein, American author and motivational speaker

A month on from “R U OK Day,” today, October 10, 2014, marks World Mental Health Day; an initiative designed to further dialogue and break down the stigma associated with mental health.

The message about mental health is loud and clear; it does not discriminate, and most people are affected directly and/or indirectly by mental health.

According to Mindframe, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness.

In NSW, this year’s Mental Health Day has adopted the ‘beYOUnique!’ The Mental Health Association explains this theme as promoting acceptance and an understanding of the impact that being proud of who we are, can have on our wellbeing.

“Let’s celebrate our strengths and differences and be ourselves! This theme aims to encourage all of us to consider our strengths and challenges and nurture our own ‘unique worth’.

“We should also take the opportunity to support the people in our lives and celebrate their own individual qualities that make them unique,” said The Mental Health Association.

The discussion this week has been around making people aware of the signs and symptoms, and encouraging individuals to take responsibility for their own mental health.

According to Beyond Blue Chairman, Jeff Kennett, the main signs and symptoms of mental illness to be aware of are a change in eating and sleeping habits, withdrawal from friendship groups and loss of self-confidence.

Media outlets have been broadcasting segments about mental health all week, including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph and the ABC.

This morning on ABC youth radio station Triple J, breakfast hosts Matt & Alex interviewed their producer, Beth McMullen, who revealed her battle with dissociative identity disorder. Callers were flooding in, wanting to join the conversation and share their stories about one of the most heavily stigmatised mental disorders. Earlier in the week, comedian Felicity Ward and retired AFL star, Simon Hogan discussed their personal battles with mental health.

This demonstrates how society nowadays approaches and consider mental health – a major shift from a decade ago.

Mental illness is the third leading cause of disability burden in Australia and we’ve come a long way with accepting this for what it truly is – an illness.

Associations such as Beyond Blue, SANE and Lifeline, along with initiatives such as Mental Health Week have been instrumental in the progress that we’ve made, demonstrated by the positive community dialogue and coverage of the once highly stigmatised topic. Mental health is no longer the elephant in the room.

If you, or a loved one is showing any symptoms of mental health illness, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

1 Comment

  1. Irveen on October 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    A great read! Mental illness is difficult to admit to and Lifeline does a great service by being a source of support to all those effected.