Mental Health vs Mental Illness: knowing the difference, and where to get help

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Why mental health education is so important in our community

Everyone has mental health and it’s important to know how to maintain your mental health.

Many people with poor mental health or mental illness may not seek help or do not understand what help is available.

Learning about mental health and the services available to you or your loved ones doesn’t need to take long.

It could save the life of someone you know and love.

It could even save your life.

Talk to your friends and family about the education and treatment options available. This could be the kickstart needed to getting well.

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Learn how to stop mental illness going unnoticed with better education

Mental Health/Wellness = A broad term referring to the social, psychological and emotional wellbeing of individuals. Maintaining good mental health is an important part of leading a productive and fruitful life and many of us take steps to ensure we have good mental health by doing things, such as surrounding ourselves with caring friends and family, doing hobbies we enjoy, eating and sleeping well, exercising, working in a field we are passionate about and so on.

Mental Illness = A clinically diagnosable illness affecting how a person thinks and feels, behaves and interacts with other people and this can range from anxiety or depression, to eating disorders, bipolar or schizophrenia. These illnesses are a result of biological, developmental and/or social factors and can be managed with cognitive and behavioural psychological therapies, psychosocial support and medically in the same manner as a physical disease would be treated.

Now you know the difference – what next? Why not talk regularly about your mental health with your friends or those you trust? Talking about our emotions comfortably will help those around you identify when they see a change in you – when mental health becomes mental ill-health, then mental illness can follow. If we can break the stigma associated with people who experience mental illness, then it will be easier to have difficult conversations when you think that you or someone you care about may need help .

Educating yourself and your family on mental health and mental illness is the ideal place to start.

Finding education resources can be tricky – especially when you don’t know where to start.

Here’s a list of resources you can refer to whenever you need some extra support and direction:

  • headspace is an invaluable online resource for young people and families who need help or imformation looking after people  experiencing poor mental health. headspace also has physical support centres and online services  if you need to talk with a qualified expert in a safe environment.
  • Children of Parents with a Mental Illness is an excellent resource designed to help parents and young people that have a parent  is experiencing  a mental illness. This resource also includes an incredibly helpful section dedicated to educating children and professionals on a  parents’ mental illness.
  • Black Dog Institute is an organisation dedicated to the research and education of mood disorders like depression and bipolar and other factors that affect mental health like sleeping patterns. Black Dog deliver training to GPs, schools and other professionals as well as developing helpful apps and computer programs for use in schools, the community and for individuals
  • Beyondblue is a not for profit organisation that promotes good mental health, tackles stigma and discrimination and provides support and information on anxiety, depression and suicide to all members of the community.. Their website has a whole heap of practical resources for people at different stages of their life, online access to assistance via 24/7phone support and evening webchat, as well as qualified educational materials which can be used by young people, individuals, schools and workplaces.

Use these resources to help you understand more about your own mental health so you can share your knowledge and experience with your friends and family and start an important conversation.

Take the initiative.

It could save a life.

Treat mental illness with professional help

There are plenty of community-based services you can refer to if you (or someone you know) is in need of help.

Our helpful resource list below outlines a few of the places you can reach out to in times of need.

State Community Health Resources:

NSW

ACT

VIC

SA

WA

NT

QLD

Samaritans also provides a wide range of mental health services you and your loved ones can access.

Picking the right medical practitioner is also really important on the journey wellness.

Your GP should be your first  connection within the health system. If you have a strong and trusting relationship with your GP, they will be one of your most helpful supporters.

A psychologist, social worker or other qualified mental health clinician can provide more in-depth strategies to help you cope with stress, anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, grief or loss  and  suicidal thoughts. If you need medication, your GP (or a psychiatrist for more severe mental health issues), will find the right solution to help you improve your mood and wellbeing.

Beyond Blue has a great resource on who can assist you if you require medical treatment for your illness.

There are community services and charities near you, set up to help and support people living with a mental health concern or illness.

Start making a positive change today. Use the support systems available to you and your loved one. It could help you save a life.

Samaritans provides mental health services and support in Newcastle, the Hunter Valley, Central Coast and Mid-North Coast regions of NSW. Contact us if you would like more info about the mental health services we provide.