The key to de-stigmatising mental health

AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Young People Ahead Peer Youth Mentor Khoya Hogan had a message for all during Mental Health Week. Photo: Supplied
AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Young People Ahead Peer Youth Mentor Khoya Hogan had a message for all during Mental Health Week. Photo: Supplied

Mental Health Week is an opportunity for everyone to reflect on their own mental health and wellbeing and it’s a good chance to learn how to look out for family and friends as well.

Director of Mental Health and ATODS for the North West Hospital and Health Service Sandra Kennedy said they really want people to reach out early because early intervention is the key.

A person's mental health can make it hard to cope with day-to-day life and it can stop them from enjoying the things they like to do. 

It’s only human to have periods of time where we experience low moods but some people experience these feelings for extensive periods of time.

When this happens, symptoms other than sadness also develop, such as feelings of worthlessness.

The person may find it harder than usual to perform tasks at work or focus at school and may have problems getting along with family and friends. 

There may be a change in their sleeping pattern or their diet, either overeating or not eating at all, and they may want to spend a lot of time alone.

Early intervention or reaching out for assistance is what Mental Health Week is about, it’s to remind people to do just that and that it’s okay to talk about these things.

Director of Mental Health and ATODS for the North West Hospital and Health Service Sandra Kennedy

“Early intervention or reaching out for assistance is what Mental Health Week is about, it’s to remind people to do just that and that it’s okay to talk about these things,” Ms Kennedy said.

Many campaigns run throughout Australia relating to all aspects of Mental Health, helping to impact on the stigma of mental illness.

“These organisations have some really good tips and advice about managing mental wellbeing for adults and youth.”

“Recognise the early signs either in yourself or in others. Ask them if they are okay, be supportive by listening and recognising that you may not have all the answers, seek help together.”

“Sometimes when a person is experiencing an extensive low period, they are actually relieved to talk about it without fear of consequence,” she said.

Statistics show that people accessing services such as Emergency Rooms has increased.

Ms Kennedy said whilst we still recognise there is a certain part of stigma that occurs and will prevent different populations and people in the community from accessing health programs, the increase in statistics may not be a bad thing.

“It indicates that families, carers and parents are seeking help.”

Youth aged between 18 to 29, are still experiencing cognitive development, and this is one of the reasons why mental illness can present at this time of life.

Ms Kennedy said she would direct youth to Youth Beyond Blue, they have a lot of information and can make recommendations.

“There’s also some work being done via Beyond Blue where youth can do an online course around anxiety for example however it depends on the young person accessing the information, what suits an individual the best and how they feel comfortable tackling the issue.”