tv news: mental as: ABC programming in support of mental health week
This week (5 – 10 October) is Mental Health Week in Australia. You can find various events happening around Oz by checking out websites such as this one for Victoria, and this one for Western Australia. This is in support of world Mental Health Day, which takes place on 10 October every year.
For Mental Health Week, the ABC is running Mental As Week, which seeks to break down the taboos surrounding mental health. The ABC is encouraging people to donate to mental health research and to get informed by watching a series of programs that focus on mental health issues.
You can check out Australian comedian Felicity Ward’s documentary about challenging mental health stigmas, Felicity’s Mental Mission, on Monday 6 October at 8:30pm on ABC2. There’s also Good Game on Tuesday 7 October at 8:30pm and Friday 10 October at midnight; Agony of the Mind on Thursday 9 October at 9:30pm, and Friday Night Crack Up on 10 October at 7:30pm.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness at least once in their life. That means that at your workplace of fifteen people, three of them may be seriously suffering right now, and you may not even know it. Spreading awareness and removing the stigma of mental health issues are the first steps towards changing this rising percentage – because the more open we are about talking to each other, the more those who need help will not feel embarrassed to ask for it.
Mental Health Week comes off the bat of the first ever World Suicide Report, released earlier this year, which states that many factors can lead to suicide, ‘but the stigma attached to mental disorders and suicide means that many people feel unable to seek help.’ The report goes on to say that ‘an estimated 804,000 suicide deaths occurred worldwide in 2012’ and that ‘globally, suicides account for 50% of all violent deaths in men and 71% in women.’
Watching the programs will definitely raise your awareness about the seriousness of mental illnesses, but what can you actually do to help the rate of suicides occurring every 40 seconds to decrease? Donating to an organisation that is committed to researching how and why mental health affects us is definitely one thing, or you could volunteer for a place such as Lifeline. But I think that doing something like what R U Ok Day tells us to do – asking those around you how they are truly feeling is probably the hardest yet bravest thing you can do. When someone really asks me how I am, I can tell they care enough because they are giving me more than the time of day. The same goes for when I ask someone how they’re really feeling – I can see their face light up. They feel relief at finally being able to speak their mind. This, I believe, is the beginning of the end of mental illness.