As part of Mental Health Week (October 6-13, 2013), Australians are being asked to unfriend anxiety.

Three million Australians are living with depression or anxiety. In fact, one-in-four of us experience anxiety. Research shows the number of Australian adults who report experiencing anxiety, has grown almost 40 per cent in the past four years.

Anxiety and other mental health issues are very common. Yet we don’t tend to talk about these issues. Sadly, the majority of people living with mental health disorders, including anxiety, stress, depression, obsessive behaviour, eating disorders, endless worrying or panic attacks, think their symptoms are just a part of who they are.

However, the effect of mental illness –if unattended– can severely compromise an individual and their quality of life.

In the I Am Anxiety campaign launched by beyondblue in May 2013, which addresses various effects of mental health disorders, Australian actor, Ben Mendelsohn states, “I’ve been expecting you, … don’t tell me you don’t recognise me.”

This statement seems to hit a nerve. To date, Mendelsohn’s clip has attracted almost 205,000 hits on YouTube and has been getting plenty of attention via other social media channels and the organisation’s website.

This week marks Mental Health Week, held every October in Australia to coincide with World Mental Health Day on October 10 – designed to raise community awareness of mental health & wellbeing.

But what does mental health actually mean?

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as,

a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”.

So, how can we achieve this state of wellbeing?

Patients diagnosed with a mental health disorder are advised to seek immediate support, from places such as here and here.

On a lighter note (although no substitution for professional medical advice), there are some tools available to maximise our health and wellbeing potential.

For instance, embracing the 2013 theme for Mental Health Week, Celebrate, Connect, Grow, all of us are encouraged to act on the big and small things we can do this week, such as:

  • Celebrating the positive events in your life, as well as the strengths and values that have helped you through more challenging times;
  • Connecting with others, by paying attention to your close relationships, or by reaching out and making new friends; and
  • Growing by expanding your horizons and trying something new that creates meaning and purpose for you.

In an article written by freelance writer, Chiara Fucarino, she lists 22 things that happy people two differently, including not holding grudges, treating everyone with kindness, speaking well of others, getting absorbed into the present, meditating and eating well.

These simple practices can heighten your personal power and set you on the path towards good mental health.