We can all play an important role in creating a mentally healthy society, according to this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign. Titled ‘Mental Health Begins with Me!’ the campaign encourages people to take ownership of their role in mental health well-being.
The Manager at the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS), Barbara Luisi, said the slogan called on us to take part in the campaign.
“The campaign emphasises that we all have the ability to contribute to improving mental health in our communities. You don’t have to have a mental health condition to be part of this campaign,” Ms Luisi said.
During the month of October, people across Australia come together to hold events and promote good mental health and wellbeing in their local communities.
Mental health issues affect one in five Australians every year. Mental health refers to the overall well-being of a person, including a person’s mood, emotions, and behaviour. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health challenge, followed by depression.
This also rings true for people living with long-term health issues, particularly those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
“If you have a health condition such as HIV or hepatitis C, there is also an increased likelihood of mental health issues.”
“Many people feel overwhelmed when they learn of their diagnosis, or can withdraw from family and friends and can experience extreme isolation. Others may tell a family member or friend of their situation and experience rejection instead of support,” Ms Luisi said.
According to the 2013 HIV Futures research which is a national survey of people with HIV in Australia, more than 41 per cent of those surveyed reported a previous diagnosis of a mental health condition such as depression, followed by anxiety at 27 per cent. Mental health issues similarly feature high among people living with hepatitis C.
Coupled with stigma attached to long-term health conditions, people from CALD backgrounds can face barriers in accessing mental health services, according to Donatella Cifali, clinical supervisor at the MHAHS.
“These include barriers of language, different cultural understanding of mental illness which can result in shame and isolation, as well as lack of information about mental health services and how they operate in Australia,” said Ms Cifali.
Culturally appropriate emotional support for people living with HIV and those on treatment for hepatitis C are available in NSW from the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service on (02) 9515 1234 or for outer Sydney metro areas on 1800 108 098.
Information on mental illnesses in a range of languages is also available from the Multicultural Health Communications Service website: http://www.mhcs.health.nsw.gov.au/publicationsandresources
Free and anonymous mental health information is available from Mental Health Associations located across Australia http://www.mentalhealth.asn.au/. In NSW, Mental Health Information service is available on 1300 794 991. To contact the service using a telephone interpreter, call 131 450 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call. Discussions through an interpreter are always confidential.