Mental health refers to someone's sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. If healthy it enables us to fully enjoy and appreciate other people, day-to-day life and our environment. When we are not mentally healthy we may lack the ability to form positive relationships, use our abilities to reach our potential or positively deal with life’s challenges.
National Health Priority
Causes of Mental Health Conditions
There is no one "cause" for mental health concerns. Instead, it is a number of overlapping factors that can increase the risk of developing a mental health problem. These can include:
- Biological factors - such as families and their history of mental health problems.
- Adverse early life experiences - including abuse, neglect, death or significant loss or trauma.
- Individual psychological factors - including self-esteem, coping skills or thinking style.
- Current circumstances - for example, stress from work and school, money problems or difficult personal relationships.
- Serious illness or physical injury and drug or alcohol use.
- In each year, approximately one in five Australians will experience a mental illness.
- Women are more likely than men to seek help for anxiety disorders (18% compared with 11%).
- Approximately 14 % of Australians will be affected by an anxiety disorder in any 12-month period.
- 12% of 13-17 year olds have thought about suicide, while 4.2% have actually made a suicide attempt. The higher percent being females.
- Men are more than twice as likely as women to have substance abuse disorders (7% compared with 3.3%).
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder is equally common in males and females.
symptoms of mental illness can vary, depending on the particular disorder, circumstances and other factors. Mental illness symptoms can affect emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Examples of signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality, paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Excessive anger, hostility or violence
- Warning Signs - Pay attention to early signs and work with your doctor or therapist to learn what might trigger your symptoms.
- Planning - Make a plan so that you know what to do if symptoms return. Contact your doctor or therapist if you notice any changes, also consider involving family members or friends to watch for warning signs.
- Early Help - Mental health conditions can be harder to treat if you wait until symptoms get bad. Long-term maintenance may help prevent relapses.
- Self Care - Sufficient sleep, healthy eating and regular physical activity are important. Try to maintain a schedule.
- Psychological - Health professionals like doctors and psychologists can help talk about symptoms and concerns, they can also discuss new ways of managing the mental illness.
- Medical - People can be helped by taking medication, it may need to be on an ongoing basis. The doctor explains the benefits and possible side-effects of the medication before it is prescribed. Medications can help the brain to restore its usual chemical balance, so that the symptoms are reduced or even eliminated.
- Community support programs - Support programs are especially important for people with recurring symptoms. The support may include information, accommodation, help with finding suitable work and discoveribg other mutual support groups. It's important that mental health is understood and accepted.
Help and Support
Mind Health Connect - Mind health connect helps access reliable and relevant information about mental health issues and services. It is the first step to finding relevant support and resources to meet your needs. (http://www.australia.gov.au/mental-health)
- Exercise - Exercise relieves stress and can lift your mood. It is a powerful antidote to anxiety, and depression. To get the most mental health benefits, aim for 30 minutes or more of exercise per day.
- Sunlight - Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of sun per day. This can be done while exercising, gardening, or socialising
- Avoiding Bad Stimulants - Limit alcohol and avoid cigarettes and other drugs. These are stimulants that unnaturally make you feel good for a short period of time, whilst having long-term negative effect on the condition of your emotional health.
- Interaction - Spend time daily, face-to-face, with people you like. Make time with people you enjoy a priority. Choose friends, colleagues, and family members who are upbeat, positive, and interested in you.