Mental Health

Recognising Distress

Recognising Distress

Keep Calm & Recognise Distress (Part 2)

(Read Part 1: Keep Calm & Carry On)

How do you recognise distress? It might sound ridiculous. Of course doctors can recognise distress. After all, doctors are trained to recognise symptoms, diagnose and treat, right?  The number of Australians seeking help from GPs for mental health issues is higher than ever with over 16 million GP appointments for mental health-related issues during the 2013-14 financial year. That accounts for 12.3% of all GP encounters. Clearly doctors are trusted when it comes to managing other people’s distress4

But being adept at recognising symptoms of distress in others doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to recognise them in yourself. In clinical situations, objectivity allows medical professionals to observe distressed behaviour in their patients and elicit information to develop health care plans, refer for counselling and manage ongoing treatment.  It is much harder to observe this behaviour in yourself, especially when you are the professional on whom so many of your patients depend. For doctors and medical students, barriers to seeking professional help for mental health issues include;1

  • Fear of a lack of confidentiality or privacy within their profession
  • Embarrassment or shame
  • Concern about the impact on registration and right to practice
  • Preference to rely on self rather than seek help
  • Lack of time
  • Concerns about career development or progress

Consider this case, from an article in the Medical Journal of Australia, presenting a typical example of the barriers many doctors experience in the face of untenable stress.

‘Over the last 6 months you’ve noticed that you have become increasingly anxious. You find yourself constantly worrying about everyday events that never used to bother you. You are having difficulty sleeping and often wake up during the night. Having a few drinks seems to help you relax. Although your general health is quite good you are experiencing a lot of muscle tension and headaches. You’re also confident in managing this condition with your patients and feel that you could manage it for yourself. You know a competent doctor you could see whom you’re comfortable would be understanding of you, but you are unsure whether you can trust them to maintain your confidentiality. Your practice is so busy it would be hard to find the time.’2

Does this sound familiar? Here, workload, time constraints and confidentiality are concerns and the tendency might be to avoid broaching the subject with another doctor and hope the problem just goes away.

Resilience

As a doctor, you know that avoidance is not a workable option. Your mental health is just as important as everyone else’s and you have the right to access help without your reputation being at stake. You need to care for yourself before you can adequately care for others. And here’s some good news in the midst of all this distress. According to the 2013 beyondblue survey, doctors appear to have a greater degree of resilience to the negative impacts of poor mental health.1 But getting a baseline on your stress levels is important so you can assess how well you are managing at work and at home.

Assess your stress

Try taking this quick Professional Quality of Life survey to see how you’re tracking with stress at work. The PQoL assesses the satisfaction you derive from your work, your tendency to burnout and your response to extreme or stressful events. It’s an interesting exercise even if you’re feeling you have little or no stress at work.  You might be surprised with the results.

 

Of course, getting a baseline is just the first step. Professional help and advice are within easy reach, much easier now that work-related stress levels have been identified as an issue across most professions and workplaces in Australia.3 The Australasian Doctor’s Health Network is a great place to start. You can get immediate help, via state-based call centres, with issues around work stress, burnout and anxiety as well as bullying and harassment.  We recommend you seek help from a medical professional if you are feeling burnt out, distressed, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. It’s OK. You can keep calm and carry on, you might just need some help.

 

References

  1. National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students October 2013 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/research-project-files/bl1132-report—nmhdmss-full-report_web
  2. Davidson SK, Schattner PL. Doctors’ health-seeking behaviour: a questionnaire survey. Med J Aust 2003;179(6):302-5. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2003/179/6/doctors-health-seeking-behaviour-questionnaire-survey
  3. Commomwealth of Australia. Working Well: An organisational approach to psychological injury. http://www.comcare.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/41369/PUB_47_Working_well.pdf
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014. Mental Health Services: in brief 2014.

http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129549620

  1. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2003/179/6/doctors-health-seeking-behaviour-questionnaire-survey

 

 

 

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Keep Calm & Carry On

Keep Calm & Carry On

Keep Calm & Carry On

How’s your clinic day mapping out? Feeling calm and measured – managing your appointments on time? Keeping up to date with paperwork or taking work home? How’s your home life? Getting enough exercise? Eating well, drinking in moderation and getting to bed early?

Full marks to those who answered ‘Yes’. Carry on. You must have a handle on the demands of working in the medical profession.

If you answered ‘No’, you’re not alone. A beyondblue survey from 2013 showed that doctors are at higher risk of mental ill-health than the general population.1 Key findings from the survey showed that doctors reported substantially higher rates of psychological distress compared to both the Australian population and other Australian professionals.1 Notably, levels of high psychological distress were reported in doctors aged 30 years and under, in particular young female doctors who reported greater work stress in relation to career and family/carer responsibilities.1

So how are health professionals countering the tendency to high stress and vulnerability to poor mental health? It’s apparent that doctors are not taking their own advice about work-life balance. In fact, studies have shown that doctors who experience ill health tend to disregard the advice they give to their patients.2

Thriving on stress

The very nature of medical practice means it is inevitable that you will experience a certain level of stress. The key is recognising when normal stress or ‘eustress’ becomes ‘distress’ and having strategies in place to deal with it.

Stress is a generic term we use on a daily basis to describe the feelings we might have in response to pressures we face in our lives. Stress itself is not a disease or injury and ‘feeling stressed’ at work is common however, the way we deal with stress is key to coping with daily life.

Eustress is good stress. Even though it’s challenging, eustress produces positive effects, such as maximising output and creativity. In fact many professionals tend to perform best when faced with a certain level of stress. Distress may become evident, however, when we are subjected to demands and expectations that are out of keeping with our needs, abilities, skills and coping strategies. We feel distress when the resources demanded of us outstrip the resources we have. Distress is likely to result in a loss of productivity and a decline in overall levels of well-being.3

If you’d like to know more about recognising distress read Part 2 of Keep Calm and Carry On: Recognising Distress

 

Follow @beyondblue on Twitter

 

References

  1. National Mental Health Survey of Doctors and Medical Students October 2013 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/docs/default-source/research-project-files/bl1132-report—nmhdmss-full-report_web
  2. Davidson SK, Schattner PL. Doctors’ health-seeking behaviour: a questionnaire survey. Med J Aust 2003;179(6):302-5. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2003/179/6/doctors-health-seeking-behaviour-questionnaire-survey
  3. Commomwealth of Australia. Working Well: An organisational approach to psychological injury. http://www.comcare.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/41369/PUB_47_Working_well.pdf
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Clinical Supervison Integral to Nursing

Clinical Supervison Integral to Nursing

Compassion comes at a cost

Mental health nurses are at the frontline of any mental health engagement. So, it’s an odd kind of disconnect when counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists engage in compulsory regular debriefing sessions during their training yet a similar model is yet to be mandated for mental health nurses – the very people who are expected to respond to the mental health needs of their patients from shift to shift.1

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Keep Calm and Speak Up!

Keep Calm and Speak Up!

Drug and Alcohol Nurses Speak Up

Reducing harm from substance misuse in Australia and New Zealand is in part dependent on having a skilled, effective and adaptable healthcare workforce. With an ageing population, the demand for workers in healthcare and social assistance is set to outstrip all other sectors. 1  But it’s not only the population that is ageing, the nursing workforce itself is aging. Half of all nurses right now are over 45 years.2 In 2014 many are already reaching retirement age and more still are working beyond the age of 65.

 

Speak Up with Social Media

This can only mean one thing – we need to engage with younger nurses and encourage them into this specialist field. How better to do this?  Via social media of course!.

Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia, better known as DANA, is already engaging with the new generation of nurses through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. DANA made it their mission to embrace a media that may not be entirely natural to many of their current members, but recognises that increasingly we are turning to social media for health information, both personal and professional.   Speaking a digital health language that highlights emerging trends, digital health technology, apps and wearables, keeps organisations like DANA on-trend in a rapidly changing healthcare system.

 

Speaking Up with Twitter

In a first for DANA, dedicated conference tweeters, e-GPS will be present and tweeting live from key sessions at this year’s DANA ‘Speak-Up’ Conference. Twitter is an integral part of conferencing these days and DANA will be sharing plenary sessions and substance misuse research in real-time to followers across multiple social media networks.

Follow @DANAnews1 and use the official conference hashtag #DANAConf2014 in all your posts.

 

The DANA Speak Up Conference

DANA believes that it’s time for nurses to speak up about what they do to reduce the harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; to speak up about how they make a difference and to speak up on important issues that fall within the sphere of expertise of drug and alcohol nurses.

At the 2014 DANA Conference we will be speaking up:

  • about the  work of drug and alcohol nurses
  • about the important role nurses play in reducing the toll from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs
  • for colleagues struggling with alcohol, tobacco and other drug problems
  • for those who cannot speak or who have no voice
  • to make the voice of nurses heard

There will also be special workshops about ‘Pain Management’ and ‘Nurses, the Media and Speaking Up’

Come along. Register now. The conference is being held at The Mecure Sydney from June 17-20th.

 

Making Your Voice Heard

You’re just a few steps away from joining the social media network and becoming a valuable voice in the DANA Twitter conversation.

 

1. Follow @DANAnews1

 

2. Start using the official conference hashtag   #DANAConf2014

 

3. Register for the DANA Speak Up Conference

 

4. Speak Up using social media

  • Tell your followers about the conference
  • Share DANA’s Facebook and LinkedIn posts across your networks

 

Above all, encourage conversations about the amazing work nurses from all sectors are doing every day to reduce harm from substance misuse. The more young nurses and health professionals learn about this area of healthcare, the more likely we are to have a rich, varied and digitally advanced nursing workforce to go on caring for our communities into the future.

 

DANA looks forward to welcoming you to Sydney for the Speak Up conference 17-20 June 2014. Register at the DANA Conference Website

 

‘Speak your mind even if your voice shakes’ – Maggie Kuhn, Grey Panthers activitst

The Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia conference theme in 2014 is Speak Up! go to www.danaconference.com.au to register

 

 

References

1. National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction (NCETA) and Flinders University, Adelaide SA, 2013. http://nceta.flinders.edu.au/files/8813/7938/7565/Discussion_paper_Final.pdf

2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2003

3. Sydney Morning Herald, 2 May, 2014 http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/retirement-age-rise-to-70-by-2035-joe-hockey-announces-20140502-zr318.html

 

Follow on Twitter

@DrinkTankAU

@FAREAustralia

@HolyoakeWA

@DrugActionWeek

@AsannaNurses

@DANAnews1

@eGPSolutions

@meta4RN

 

 

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Cannabis & Consequences Training

Cannabis & Consequences Training

A one off training opportunity is being offered to teachers, student welfare staff and other relevant professions in relation to the Cannabis and Consequences II package. Please see details below.

These no-cost workshops will cover information for curriculum coordinators and teachers; key messages for young people; 12 classroom activities about cannabis, an implementation guide and up-to date scientific and evidence-based information about cannabis from experienced alcohol and drug specialists.

– The Cannabis and Consequences II package incorporates elements of the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education

– Cannabis literature is reviewed, including key messages for young people

– The package is a comprehensive course that considers the prevalence, impacts and strategies for help seeking in relation to cannabis

– The classroom activities which can be used to deliver information to students in a single session or in a combined format

– Provides tips on how to respond to curly questions about drug use

– Training can count toward your professional learning requirements

– Lunch provided

 

The training which will provide an overview of the Cannabis and Consequences II package will run in central locations on the dates below:-

Hobart – Tues 8th April 2014

Sydney – Tues 15th April 2014

Melbourne – Wed 23rd April 2014

Brisbane – Fri 2nd May 2014

Canberra – Fri 9th May 2014

Perth – Tues 13th May 2014

Adelaide – Fri 23rd May 2014

Darwin – Thurs 29th May 2014

 

Space is limited so if you are interested in attending, complete the Expression of Interest form online at: www.turningpoint.org.au/cannabistraining
The training locations, venue details and training times can also be found at the above link.
Your place will be confirmed as soon as possible.

 

For further information please contact:
Sandra Roeg, Senior Trainer, Turning Point T: 03 8413 8702
E: SandraR@turningpoint.org.au

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Recognising Eating Disorders – Part 2

Recognising Eating Disorders – Part 2

Before you start reading about how to recognise the warning signs of Eating Disorders (ED), we encourage you to skip back to Part 1 – Christmas Stress & Eating Disorders to learn more about ED including common ED triggers.

 

DO YOU NEED HELP NOW? Call the Eating Disorders Helpline: 1800 33 4673

 

Recognising Eating Disorder Warning Signs

There are physical, psychological and behavioural warning signs that can signal the onset or the presence of an eating disorder and it is common for someone to display a combination of these symptoms.

It is important to be aware of the following:

Physical warning signs

  • Rapid weight loss or frequent changes in weight
  • Loss of or disturbance of menstrual periods in girls and women
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Always feeling tired and not sleeping well
  • Swelling around the cheeks or jaw, calluses on knuckles, damage to teeth and bad breath which can be signs of vomiting
  • Feeling cold most of the time, even in warm weather

Psychological warning signs

  • Preoccupation with eating, food, body shape and weight
  • Feeling anxious around meal times
  • Feeling ‘out of control’ around food
  • Having a distorted body image
  • Feeling obsessed with body shape, weight and appearance
  • ‘Black and white’ thinking – rigid thoughts about food being ‘good’ or ‘bad’
  • Changes in emotional and psychological state – depression, stress, anxiety, irritability, low self esteem
  • Using food as a source of comfort (e.g. eating as a way to deal with boredom, stress or depression)
  • Using food as self punishment (e.g. refusing to eat due to depression, stress or other emotional reasons)

Behavioural warning signs

  • Dieting behaviour (e.g. fasting, counting calories/kilojoules, avoiding food groups such as fats and carbohydrates)
  • Eating in private and avoiding meals with other people
  • Evidence of binge eating (e.g. disappearance of large amounts of food)
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom during or shortly after meals
  • Vomiting or using laxatives, enemas or diuretics
  • Changes in clothing style (e.g. wearing baggy clothes)
  • Compulsive or excessive exercising (e.g. exercising in bad weather, in spite of sickness, injury or social events; and experiencing distress if exercise is not possible)
  • Making lists of good or bad foods
  • Suddenly disliking food they have always enjoyed in the past
  • Obsessive rituals around food preparation and eating (e.g. eating very slowly, cutting food into very small pieces, insisting that meals are served at exactly the same time everyday)
  • Extreme sensitivity to comments about body shape, weight, eating and exercise habits
  • Secretive behaviour around food (e.g. saying they have eaten when they haven’t, hiding uneaten food in their rooms)

It is important to remember that due to the nature of an eating disorder some of these characteristic behaviours may be concealed.

Source:  NEDC National Eating Disorders Collaboration 

 

DO YOU NEED HELP NOW? Call the Eating Disorders Helpline: 1800 33 4673

 

ED and the internet

For the sake of balance, it’s important to mention that there are groups on the internet that actively encourage negative eating behaviours. Some people with ED use social media forums, blogs, photos and  “thinspiration” to encourage, laud and form an ED alliance where ED is discussed and where negative behaviours are reinforced. Initially, these sites were a kick against the system where censorship and punitive, conventional treatment methods were simply not working. The danger of such sites is that fasts, starvation, over-exercising and dangerous dysfunctional behaviour is very often celebrated and encouraged. People living with ED, their families and health professionals should be aware that these sites exist and form strategies around how to deal with insidious messages that encourage negative behaviours and practices and the emotions or behaviours that these messages may trigger.

 

Useful Links

More tips for coping with Christmas: Eating Disorders Victoria

The Butterfly Foundation Support for Australians experiencing eating disorders

NEDC National Eating Disorders Collaboration 

Derwent House Eating Disorders Day Program NSW FedupNSW

 

Follow

@ButterflyFoundation

@SupportMeAndYou

@Centre4EatDis

@NEDC_Australia

@FedupNSW 

Sources

Paying the Price: The economic and social impact of eating disorders in Australia. Butterfly Report, 2012. Download The Butterfly Report 

American Association of Suicidology. Suicide and Eating Disorders. Downloaded from LIFE  livingisforeveryone.com.au

Eating Disorders Victoria www.eatingdisorders.org.au

Eating Disorders Victoria Helpline: 1300 550 326

National Eating Disorders Collaboration NEDC

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Christmas Stress & Eating Disorders – Part 1

Christmas Stress & Eating Disorders – Part 1

Christmas can be an especially difficult time for all people who live with mental illness. For people with eating disorders (ED), the bells and whistles of Christmas and large family gatherings make the battle with food more visible to extended family and friends. Hypervigilance and high anxiety can easily lead to misunderstandings, judgement and conflict. Families may find themselves isolated at Christmas time, simply because hosting a Christmas lunch is extraordinarily difficult when someone with an eating disorder is sitting at the table.

The build up to Christmas typically involves increasing anxiety around traditional celebrations involving food. There may a heightened fear of putting on weight for people with anorexia, secret preparations and purging for people with bulimia nervosa or guilt, shame and trauma for people who have binge eating disorder. Afterwards there is the fallout of the festive season which can involve relapses, crash dieting, depression, isolation, even suicide. Naturally, this means that eating and drinking traditional Christmas fare strikes a morbid fear in the hearts and minds of many thousands of Australians.

It is estimated that there are over 913,000 people in Australia with eating disorders and the impact of an eating disorder is much like other significant mental illness –  the burden of illness falls firmly onto the shoulders of families and friends. This is particularly true in the case of eating disorders because there are so few hospital beds allocated for patients with eating disorders – The Butterfly Foundation estimate the nationwide bed allocation for people with ED is just twenty two. Twenty two beds across Australia allocated for people suffering from an often fatal mental illness. Needless to say, the waiting lists for these beds are sometimes years long (and very often years too late…).

  • Eating disorders can be fatal, in fact one in ten people with anorexia nervosa will not survive for more than 10 years after the onset of the illness.
  • In 2012 there were an estimated 1,863 deaths in Australia due to eating disorders (gender differences: 515 males, 1313 females).

Comorbidities such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation are common for people living with eating disorders. Suicide mortality rates in people with anorexia nervosa are one of the highest of all psychiatric illnesses with the risk of death by suicide in people with anorexia nervosa calculated as high as 57 to 58 times that of the same age and gender and populations.

 

DO YOU NEED HELP NOW? CALL THE ED SUPPORT LINE: 1800 33 4673

 

5 Common Eating Disorder Triggers

So, what are some of the triggers someone with an eating disorder might be experiencing at this time of year?

Eating disorder triggers vary from person to person but common triggers include:

  • Emotional issues – Disordered eating is a way to cope with painful or distressing emotions (anger, sadness, frustration, helplessness)
  • Weight comments – “You look so much better now – how has your weight been?” or “Wow, you’re looking well!
  • Images – models, skinny people, pictures of food, recipes, cooking programs on TV
  • Eating with others – Some people who are living with ED report that eating with other people makes them feel like a “pig”. No matter how much is on their plate, it seems like much more that everyone else has.
  • Exercise promotion – When super fit models or personal trainers claim that “diet and fitness go hand-in-hand” it can be a trigger for people with ED. Over exercising is common in people living with anorexia and while the “Exercise to beat obesity” message is great for many people, it can be a dangerous trigger for ED sufferers.

 

Read more on Recognising the Warning Signs of Eating Disorders 

 

Coping with ED during the Festive Season

So, how can people with ED and their families prepare for this season of overindulgence?

  • Plan ahead: Identify a support person and talk to them about your fears and concerns. Ask them to be available for you or your family to contact in case you feel overwhelmed.
  • Be prepared for tensions to escalate around Christmas Day or before a party. Communicate as clearly and calmly as possible.
  • Take time out for yourself. Plan for your family to do something together that is relaxing and does not necessarily revolve around food. A walk on the beach or in the park, a swim, listening to music, playing a game together.
  • Avoid comments about appearance – try something like “It’s great to see you here” or “Lovely that you could make it today”
  • Set realistic New Year resolutions with healthy boundaries
  • Learn to set realistic goals for yourself and your family. If taking on too much is going to stress you out – say NO!
  • Say YES to a healthy body image

Remember, Christmas can be a tough time for many people. Christmas will never be a “perfect day”, so learn to relax about Christmas, lower the bar, and if things don’t turn out as planned, it isn’t the end of the world. Christmas is but one day. Tomorrow is another day and there are many more tomorrows to come…..

 

DO YOU NEED HELP NOW? CALL THE ED SUPPORT LINE: 1800 33 4673

 

The Dangers of Unofficial Websites

It’s important to mention there are groups on the internet that actively encourage negative eating behaviours. Some people with ED use social media forums, blogs, photos and  “thinspiration” to encourage, laud and form an ED alliance where ED is discussed and where negative behaviours are reinforced. Initially, these sites were a kick against the system where censorship and punitive, conventional treatment methods were simply not working. The danger of such sites is that fasts, starvation, over-exercising and dangerous dysfunctional behaviour is very often celebrated and encouraged. People living with ED, their families and health professionals should be aware that these sites exist and form strategies around how to deal with insidious messages that encourage negative behaviours and practices and the emotions or behaviours that these messages may trigger.

 

Useful Links

More tips for coping with Christmas: Eating Disorders Victoria

The Butterfly Foundation Support for Australians experiencing eating disorders

NEDC National Eating Disorders Collaboration 

Derwent House NSW 

Follow

@ButterflyFoundation

@SupportMeAndYou

@Centre4EatDis

@NEDC_Australia

 @FedUpNSW

Sources

Paying the Price: The economic and social impact of eating disorders in Australia. Butterfly Report, 2012. Download The Butterfly Report 

American Association of Suicidology. Suicide and Eating Disorders. Downloaded from LIFE  livingisforeveryone.com.au

Eating Disorders Victoria www.eatingdisorders.org.au

Eating Disorders Victoria Helpline: 1300 550 326

National Eating Disorders Collaboration NEDC

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Could Do Better: Mental Health Report Card 2013

Could Do Better: Mental Health Report Card 2013

Professor Allan Fels, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, used the launch of the 2013 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to call for political courage in reforming mental health and providing better outcomes for the 45% of Australians who will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime.

Prof. Fels said: “We speak about Australia as the lucky country, but mental health is a weak point in our society as well as our health system.

“For example, it’s scandalous that only seven per cent of the 340,000 people who have co-existing mental illness and substance use disorders each year are estimated to receive treatment for both problems.  These people have their lives cut short by an average of between 20 and 30 years, they are more likely to be in prison or homeless, and they are more likely to take their own lives.

Criminalise Mental Health? Expect Poorer Outcomes

“The Commission is also highly concerned about how we as a society criminalise people who live with a mental health difficulty. People living with mental illness are over-represented in our prisons, in the number of police incidents and in the number of police shootings.  We believe that each stage of the justice system needs significant reform.

“In 2012, 38 per cent of all people entering our prison system reported being told they have a mental illness, and 87 per cent of young people in the juvenile justice system in NSW alone were found to have at least one psychological disorder. “Compared to other prison entrants, people with poor mental health have more extensive and early imprisonment histories, poorer school attainment, higher unemployment rates and higher rates of substance abuse. Incarceration and their treatment in prison often makes their mental illness worse and rarely treats their illness appropriately.

“When we look at these issues … we see that there is a cycle of vulnerability that crosses generations, and current mental health systems and supports are not generally designed with the needs of people and families at its core.

Indigenous people are twice a likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous

“Only 25% of young people and 15% of boys and young men with mental health problems receive treatment of any kind. Meanwhile, 44 Australians, on average take their own lives each week and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are two times more likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous people. “There is a growing divide between those of us who are empowered to live a contributing life – and those of us who are disempowered by issues like unemployment, homelessness, social exclusion as well as a lack of the right support ”, Prof. Fels said.

A Contributing Life: The 2013 National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention shines a light on the lives of people who are the most disadvantaged in society – economically, socially and because of the impacts of their mental illness. It contains personal accounts from people and families who have experienced mental illness through the prism of prison, homelessness, unemployment, discrimination and grief following a suicide.

Repeated calls for Early Intervention Funding

The Report Card highlights the need to increase investment in early intervention across a range of areas and across people’s lives.

Prof. Fels said: “Many of the recommendations we made last year relate to systemic reform that will take time. We need to make a start. This is about us – our family, friends and colleagues – and we are impatient for action on behalf of the millions of people and families we know are tired of struggling on.”

“We still have no public reporting on the number of people who are discharged from hospitals, custodial care, mental health or drug and alcohol related services into homelessness even though this issue has been named as a national commitment since 2008. “We observe a concerning trend of services retreating from their roles and governments retreating from funding commitments to support people in the community. Last year, we called on governments to ensure that mental health funding they publically announce is spent on mental health as promised, but we’ve seen no independent and transparent reporting on this.    “Courage will also be needed to avoid tinkering with a disjointed collection of linear services and systems that have long been shown not to produce the outcomes people need.  Success will rely on all levels of government, community agencies, and public and private services working together to make people’s lives better”, he said.

However, the Commission stressed that the news is not all bad. Professor Fels cited the public release of the first ever national data on seclusion by states and territories as a highlight of the year and a key step in achieving real reductions in this practice, which is not in line with human rights. The Commission is also pleased that psychosocial disability has been included in the NDIS, and applauded the work that non-government sector, the business sector and first responders such as Police have taken to address issues the Report Card and its broader work has raised.

Source: National Mental Health Commission Website – 27 November  2013 Media Release

Download A Contributing Life: 2013 Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Report Card

 

Need Help NOW?

If you have read this blog and you’re having suicidal thoughts:

1. Tell someone how you feel. A partner, friend, family member, school counsellor either face to face or on the phone.

2. If you have someone with you, ask them to stay with you until you get help. Being with someone, even over the phone increases your safety.

3. Call or talk to a medical professional and tell them it’s an emergency:

  • Call your local hospital and ask to speak to the Mental Health Team
  • Go to your GP or local emergency department and wait there until you are seen by a medical professional
  • Call 000. The police or ambulance may be able to take you to hospital.
  • Call your doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor or case worker
  • Call a Crisis Helpline

24 Hour Telephone Services:

  • Lifeline   13 11 14
  • Suicide Callback service   1300 659 467
  • Kids/Teens Helpline   1800 55 1800

 

Useful Websites

Read the SANE Factsheet – Finding help if you’re feeling suicidal

Go to the Lifeline Website

Go to the SANE Website

Go to the R U OK? Website

Kids can get helpful information on the Kids Helpline Website

ReachOut.com is an online support website aimed at Australian young people

 

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Zip it!

Zip it!

This week our blog post comes from Ilana Green from Inner West Medicare Local. Ilana likes to talk…a lot…so she took part in ZipIt to raise awareness for World Mental Health Day on October 10th and to see whether she could keep quiet for 24 hours…

 

The ZipIt mental health campaign really appealed to me. For starters, I genuinely care about this cause and I’m a passionate advocate for mental health issues in both my personal and professional life. Secondly, I felt quietly confident that I could happily see through a period of time without talking, even though I knew it would be challenging. Had the fundraiser required me to physically exert myself I wouldn’t have been on the bandwagon; the genius who put the words ‘fun’ and ‘run’ together wasn’t fooling me. I also think people are more likely to donate to someone offering to do something out of character. To that end, ZipIt was a winner, because everyone who knows me is aware that I like to talk… a lot… all the time. Add to that my propensity for wisecracks and pranks and it becomes apparent that some of my family, friends and colleagues were throwing money at the cause for reasons additional to their benevolence.

One of my colleagues was kind enough to jump on board with me and together we formed a ZipIt team, naming ourselves Silence of the Clams. We agreed that if we reached over $750 worth of donations we would be quiet for the full 24 hours. We more than doubled that target, committing us to a full 24 hours of silence. So on October 10 my alarm went off and the challenge began.  My partner declared we’d start the day with a game called “not answering means yes”. Round one went like this: partner asks me “would you like to let the dog lick you in the face”? After a moment of silence, my partner lifts our small dog to my eye level to allow him to give me a nice wet good morning kiss. I then walked away, only to run into our housemate who ad-libbed a song that happened to be about the beauty of speech, verbal self-expression and the right of reply, before asking me a series of questions that I couldn’t answer. This was a pretty good indication of how my day was going to play out.

After a couple of hours at work, the novelty of one-way taunts (albeit in good fun) seemed to wear off for my colleagues and I was left alone. Oddly, it was at that point things got hard. I waited to be thrown into some sort of zen-like meditative state; however without conversation, I retreated into my thoughts which had become more frequent and distracting. I started feeling a bit self-conscious about the attention I was drawing to myself and I developed a torturous internal monologue that seemed to narrate everything I did as if I was Kevin from The Wonder Years. I felt left out when people nearby gathered for conversations and I could not participate. I didn’t go out to get my daily coffee fix as it was easier to avoid people then to try and explain why I couldn’t talk. Lunch time rolled around and it was difficult to find anyone wanting to join me while I ate in silence; some said it would be boring, some said it would be weird and some declined without reason.

I had only been silent for 5 waking hours and I was already able to draw some similarities between what I was experiencing and what it is like for people who feel vulnerable, isolated, frustrated or embarrassed due to mental illness. The main point of difference was that I knew that after only 24 hours my life would return to normal. I had chosen to be in this situation temporarily, it had a clear end date and if it really got too hard I could always choose to break my silence. Anyone who has had an authentic experience with mental illness will be all too aware that mental illness is not a choice and you cannot simply choose to cease experiencing it.

ZipIt gives people a chance to consider how they would wish to be treated if they were amongst the 1 in 5 Australians who experience mental illness. Hopefully people will continue to ask such questions and engage in meaningful discussions well after they break their silence.

 

Follow @ZipitOz

Like Zip It on Facebook

Like e-GPS on Facebook for information on mental health and other health related issues

Please visit the Silence of the Clams Fundraising Page  

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Five Reasons why Exercise Improves your Mental Health

Five Reasons why Exercise Improves your Mental Health

By guest blogger Susan Whitby – MClinSc (Lifestyle Medicine), Grad Dip (Biological Anthropology), BA.

With 20% of Australians suffering from a mental illness in the past 12 months1 and the cost to the Australia economy teetering around $20 billion2 it’s well worth paying attention to the body of research supporting exercise as a valid treatment option for those suffering a mental illness.

Now who am I to be saying this? Well yes, I’m a personal trainer, so of course I think that exercise is great! But let me share something with you. For many years I suffered from deep depression and crippling anxiety to the point that I was self-harming. After many years and many relapses, I spent years researching how exercise has the potential to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Medical Practitioners are at the coalface when it comes to helping those with mental health issues. 70.8% of mental health sufferers present to a General Practitioner.3

Health professionals are in a perfect position to share this information. Sure, compliance may be an issue but there will also be people who take on board the messages gleaned from this research.

 

Here are five reasons why exercise could be an important part of a treatment program for your patients:

1. Regular exercise reduces inflammation in the body. Pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF- α are suppressed by regular exercise.4

2. Moderate intensity exercise has the potential to create a state of ‘flow’, a well-used Positive Psychology strategy for reducing the symptoms of depression.5

3. Exercise releases ‘happy hormones’. 5-HT is synthesised and metabolised immediately after a one hour bout of exercise.6

4. Exercise promotes a healthy and functioning brain by way of neurogenesis (synthesis of new neurons), the same as anti-depressant medication.7

5. Exercise increases self-efficacy. Mastering an exercise type is important in recovering self-esteem and rebuilding confidence.6

The type of exercise really doesn’t matter. Cardiovascular exercise works well for some while resistance training is preferable to others. What is important is that this information is shared. It could save millions of dollars and just as many lives.

 

 References

  1. Mental Health Council of Australia. Fact Sheet – Statistics from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. www.mcha.org.au
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007) Mental Health. Gender Indicators. ABS Cat No. 4125.0. Canberra ABS.
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results. ABS Cat No. 4326.0. Canberra ABS.
  4. Petersen AMW, Pederson BK. The anti-inflammatory effect of exercise. Journal of Applied Physiology 2005;98: 1154-1162.
  5. Dey S, Singh RH, Dey PK. Exercise Training: Significance of regional alterations in serotonin metabolism of rat brain in relation to antidepressant effect of exercise. Physiology and Behaviour 1992;52(6):1095-1099.
  6. Black Dog Institute. Fact Sheet – Exercise and Depression www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/ExerciseandDepression.pdf
  7. Ernst C, Olson AK, Pinel JPJ, Lam RW, Christie BR. Antidepressant effects of exercise: Evidence for an adult-neurogenesis hypothesis? Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience 2006;31(2):84:92.

 

Useful Links

www.corporatewellness.com.au

www.everybodyfitness.com.au

 

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