Healing tree surrounded for Mental Health Week at Mount Isa Hospital

MENTAL HEALTH: Under the healing tree at Mount Isa Hospital, Clinical Director of Mental Health, Dr Brendan O'Sullivan, Consumer Consultant for Mental Health, Carmen Lehtonen. Photo: Esther MacIntyre
MENTAL HEALTH: Under the healing tree at Mount Isa Hospital, Clinical Director of Mental Health, Dr Brendan O'Sullivan, Consumer Consultant for Mental Health, Carmen Lehtonen. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

The Healing Tree made an appropriate setting for our local Hospital and Health Service to mark Queensland Mental Health Week.

On Tuesday health workers gathered at Mount Isa Hospital’s ‘healing tree’ on Camooweal Street.

Aunty Fran Page gave acknowledgement of country, and remembered her brother who suffered mental health problems in his 20s years ago, “when there was no one to help”.

Consumer Consultant for Mental Health, Carmen Lehtonen, illustrates that like these secret Superwoman socks, mental health issues can be invisible. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

Consumer Consultant for Mental Health, Carmen Lehtonen, illustrates that like these secret Superwoman socks, mental health issues can be invisible. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

Dr Brendan O’Sullivan, Clinical Director of Mental Health for NWHHS, said it was only in the 1990s that mental health started to be funded properly and mental health issues were being seriously addressed.

“In my living memory Mental Health has been sadly neglected, but with 4 million of us (Australians) having some sort of mental health issue, and the pain and losses that go with it, mental health is now being resourced and there has been a quiet revolution since the 1990s,” Dr O’Sullivan said.

“There are now very few issues that can’t be helped or assisted with. Plenty of help available and resources are there.

“There are still shocking gaps in terms of Indigenous people and mental health issues, and we need a unified approach to close that gap, in terms of both mental and physical help.

“There are three things that prevent people seeking help: 1) stigma, 2) fear of discrimination and 3) fear of what’s involved, in terms of loss of control, et cetera. But we are chipping away at the problem.”

He also referred to mental health issues in the workplace, where he said people can be destroyed through workplace conflict.

“People need a sense of control, a sense of value in what they’re doing. A lot of international research is helping to improve Mental Health treatment. Like the healing tree, it’s a growth process.”

Carmen Lehtonen, Consumer Consultant for Mental Health, said one in five people suffer from mental health issues, so it’s important to be aware of those around you, and check in on friends and loved ones daily.

“Mental Health is invisible, you don’t know it’s there. You see the make up, you see the clothes. You don’t see what happens when that person walks into that workplace or goes shopping. You can't tell,” Ms Lehtonen said.

She then pulled up her trouser legs to reveal hidden Superwoman socks. 

“Like I said, it’s invisible. You can’t see what’s underneath.”

“Today I’ve got my super mum socks on. Mental Health does affect us mums, sons, daughters, uncles, our bosses, our colleagues. One in five,” Ms Lehtonen said.