Mental Illness

Mental Illness – A Serious Concern for Young Australians

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Mental illnesses are very common in our society today. There are many reasons for this growing issue. Materialism, the fast pace of life, peer pressure, work-life imbalance, and a highly goal-oriented life are just some of the social reasons.Hereditary mental illnesses are another reason whereas brain anatomy and chemical imbalances of the brain can also lead to mental diseases. But mostly, it is the way we live our lives today, fewer contact with nature, family and work pressures, and even our food are reasons why mental illnesses are on the rise as compared to yesteryears.

Hereditary mental illnesses are another reason whereas brain anatomy and chemical imbalances of the brain can also lead to mental diseases. But mostly, it is the way we live our lives today, fewer contact with nature, family and work pressures, and even our food are reasons why mental illnesses are on the rise as compared to yesteryears.

Mental illness is a behavioral or mental pattern that may cause suffering or a poor ability to function in life. Such features may be persistent, relapsing and remitting, or occur as a single episode.

Mental diseases are plaguing every society, some more than others. Patterns may vary but they are on the rise the world over. According to a report, one in four young Australians is at risk of serious mental illnesses. Mental health experts in Australia are calling for urgent action to help these young people before it is too late.

Psychological distress is affecting more Australians than five years ago, new research by Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute found. Mental illness is one of the most pressing issues, especially for young people, and one that has to be tackled by the government, health services, schools, and families.

Girls are twice as likely as boys to meet the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness and this figure rose from 22.5% in 2012 to 28.6% in 2016, compared to a rise from 12.7% to 14.1% for boys.

The Five Year Mental Health Youth Report revealed long-term trends of mental illness experienced by young Australians.

In Canberra alone, the capital of Australia, 1 in 3 young people are at risk of mental issues. The most common issues for young Canberrans who met the criteria for serious mental illness were stress, depression and body image.

The study found that 33 percent of the 500 Canberrans surveyed aged 15-19, met the criteria for a serious mental illness. This was 10 percent higher than the national average. A widely-used mental health measure, the Kessler 6, was used to record the experience of anxiety and depressive symptoms and determine the participant’s risk of developing mental illness.

Mission Australia ACT and Southern NSW director Ben Carblis said early intervention measures are the key to tackling the mental health crisis in the Australian Capital Territory. “It is urgent that we tap into early intervention and prevention programs in the ACT so that we have an option to decrease this. The problems we are seeing lead to anxiety, depression, addiction and in some cases suicide and the situation is tragically getting worse.”

The ACT government has set up an Office of Mental Health as youth groups called for the assembly to implement the findings of an inquiry into youth suicide rates and self-harm last year.

The capital territory now has a mental health minister. Shane Rattenbury is the first office holder of this title. This very step shows how serious the issue is. Initial agenda of the new office is to have 20 new psychologists in schools and to promote youth counseling in the community. Shane Rattenbury said the ACT government is aware of the need to improve mental health services for young people and is working to reduce the stigma around asking for mental health support.

This is important because many young people would only end up in a psychologist’s clinic as a last resort. Mostly, issues related to mental illness are discussed in personal support networks or taken up to a family member or a community group rather than a professional mental health practitioner. Provision of more suicide prevention services is another issue the new office will address. Young people need more encouragement to seek a psychologists’ help.

Catherine Yeomans, Mission Australia’s CEO said, “Adolescence comes with its own set of challenges for young people. But we are talking about an alarming number of young people facing serious mental illness; often in silence and without accessing the help they need.”

The findings of this study indicate that the mental health of the younger generation may continue to deteriorate. Ms. Yeomans said this is a major concern and without extra support and resources, including investment in more universal, evidence-based mental health programs in schools and greater community acceptance, the problem will worsen further.

Although women have a significantly higher incidence of mental health issues and psychological distress as compared to men, the issues more common for men, including schizophrenia and substance abuse, are not discussed as much as they should be.

Black Dog Institute director, Professor Helen Christensen, expressed concern that the stigma around mental health left young people fearful to seek professional help and therefore turn to unreliable, unqualified internet sources.

“While technology can be a lifeline, e-mental health interventions must be evidence-based and tailored to support young people’s individual needs,” Professor Christensen said.

“More investment is needed to drive a proactive and united approach to deliver new mental health programs which resonate with young people, and to better integrate these initiatives across schools and the health system to help young people on a path to a mentally healthier future.”

Mental illnesses include many disorders such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), psychosis, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, anxiety, depression, stress, personality disorders, neurosis and many others. The list is exhaustive. The signs and symptoms are often not clear and lack of awareness and support can worsen the problem into something very painful for both the one suffering from the disorder as well as the family.

The stigma attached to mental illnesses can only be removed by community awareness and more acceptance in society of the existence of so many mental illnesses, that mental illnesses are actually treatable diseases and that brushing off and dismissing someone exhibiting abnormal behavior as a ‘crazy person’ by those ignorant to its realities only adds to the problem not the solution.

Although it seems like mental illness is finally being recognized in many countries as a major health issue and measures are being taken to address the issue, it is the society’s mentality regarding mental health issues and illnesses that need over-hauling.

Many people may think that mental health is important and vital to a person’s well-being, it is still not seen as important or exigent as a broken bone! Many people today still do not treat mental illness as a serious issue or even a disease. It is sometimes not even considered real! “It’s all in your head”, “You’re just making it up” or “It’s just for attention” are the sad but very common ideas reverberating in the common person’s and hence the society’s minds regarding mental health issues.

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