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  • Writer's pictureMerly Hartnett

Mental health illness – what is it and do you have it?

Updated: Feb 18

Firstly, what is mental health?

The World Health Organisation has defined mental health as: "...a state of well-being in which the individual realises [their] own ability, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to [their] community."

But what does that really mean?

I work with veterans and ex-police with psych injuries (diagnosable mental health illnesses) however this isn't voluntarily discussed in our conversations. A mental health problem is a broader term that can include mental health illnesses but also other mental health problems and symptoms that don't require a diagnosis. Read on to uncover why some people find it hard to talk about it.

As someone who has lived experience with mental illnesses, it feels very uncomfortable to openly admit this however I've come to realise that I'm not the only one. In fact, at any given time 1 in 5 people in Australia are currently experiencing a mental illness(s) and the scary part of this is that 65% of those people will not seek help.

The top three mental health problems facing Australians are anxiety disorders, affective disorders (such as depression) and substance use disorders.

The big question is, why?

From my own personal experience which is why I'm so passionate about the work I do and the privilege of working with veterans and the police force, the barriers to seeking help can include:

  • Fear of discrimination as well as a lack of understanding or support from family, friends and peers

  • Fear of being sent to the hospital

  • Lack of motivation (which can also be a symptom)

  • Lack of access to services or not knowing how to access services

  • The stigma associated with mental health problems, especially around certain industries, social groups and working environments

  • The financial cost

  • Language and cultural considerations

That's why mental health awareness is so important because everyone's mental health goes up and down on a continuum from good to poor mental health at various points in a person's life whether it's death in the family, divorce, becoming a parent, sustaining an injury or experiencing a traumatic event and the list is endless.

These things can affect a person's thinking, emotional state and behaviour, they can also disrupt a person's ability to work, function with day-to-day activities and being able to engage in mutually fulfilling relationships.

If you think you are experiencing a mental health problem just know with early intervention you can prevent depression from developing.

Click here to download the Stress Audit, a self-diagnostic tool designed to help you create a plan for conquering chronic stress so you can thrive in your career and enjoy the journey of motherhood.

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