The term ‘mental health’ can be defined in different ways. Some definitions emphasise positive
psychological well-being, whereas others see it as the absence of mental health problems. Need a hand on Professional Help?
The World Health Organisation has defined ‘mental health’ as:
“….a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the
normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his
or her community.”
Others see ‘mental health’ as a continuum, ranging from having good mental health to having
mental illness. A person will vary in their position along this continuum at different points in their
A person with good mental health will feel in control of their emotions, have good cognitive
functioning and positive interactions with people around them.
Therefore, this state allows a perform well at work, in their studies, and in family and other social relationships.
Mental Illness Is Common
Mental illnesses are very common in Australia.
The most recent Nation Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, a community survey of 8,841 people aged 16-85 years of age, living in private dwellings across Australia, found that one in five (20%) had a common mental illness within the previous 12 months.
This means, an average of 3.2 million people in Australia suffer with Mental Illness.
When to seek professional help:
You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to seek professional mental help.
Successful entrepreneurs actively see counsellors, occupational therapists and life coaches to gain mental strategies for overcoming obstacles and achieving their goals.
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Mental Health professionals can be seen as educators, they can give you valuable information for better communication, emotional regulation and concentration techniques.
It is highly important that you seek professional help if you feel like your mental health is negatively affecting you in the areas of:
Education, in the work place, in your relationships – romantic and/or platonic, or are experiencing abuse and using illicit substances.
Treatment and Supports
There are so many different types of treatment and supports that can help people experiencing mental illness function better and assist in recovery.
Once you make the decision to seek help, you could choose from a number of helping sources, treatments, approaches and service settings.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach for mental health.
Psychological treatments involve provide a supportive relationship and chnaging the way a person thinks and behaves.
Usually, it is face-to-face or sometimes in a group to address issues and to promote personal growth and effective coping skills.
Self-help books and online sessions are also available.
Complementary Treatments and Lifestyle Changes
Complementary treatments and lifestyle changes involve using natural or alternative therapies and changing the way a person lives.
These can be used under the guidance of a health professional or as self-help.
Care should be taken to ensure that the self-help strategies advised are evidence based or have been recommended by an appropriate professional.
Brings together people with common problems to share their experience and help each other.
Participation in mutual aid self-help groups can reduce feelings of isolation, increase knowledge, enhance coping skills, and bolster self-esteem.
These help people regain skills and confidence to live and work in their community.
Family and friends
Are a very important source of support for a person with a mental health difficulty.
Family and friends can help by having an understanding of the illness and providing the same support as they would if the person was experiencing a physical illness.
At such times, people need to be supported by those around them, in particular when no expert help is immediately available.
Professionals Who Can Help
A variety of professionals can provide help to a person suffering with mental difficulty:
General Practitioners (GPs) A GP can recognise symptoms of a developing mental illness and provide the following types of help:
• Look for possible physical cause
• Explain illness and how the person can best be helped
• Prescribe medication if needed
• Refer the person to a psychologist or allied health professional who can help the person learn ways of coping with and overcoming the illness
• Refer the person to a psychiatrist, particularly if the symptoms are severe or long lasting
• Link the person to community support groups
The following types of treatment are covered by Australian Medicare under the Better Access Initiative:
• Psychoeducation (providing information about a mental health problem and how to manage it)
• CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
• Relaxation strategies
• Skills training (including problem solving skills, anger management, social skills, communication training, stress management and parent management training)
• Interpersonal Therapy
• Narrative therapy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
A psychologist is someone who has studied human behaviour at university and has had supervised professional experience in the area.
Psychologists are registered with a national registration board. Some psychologists provide treatment to people with mental illnesses.
Psychologists do not have medical degree, so they do not prescribe medication. Some work for health services, while others are private practitioners.
A clinical psychologist is someone who has undergone additional specialist training in how to treat people with mental health problems.
They are particularly skilled at providing CBT and other psychological treatments.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in the treatment of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists mostly focus on treating people with severe or long-lasting mental illness.
They are experts in medication and can help people who are having side effects from medications or interactions with other medications.
You can see a psychiatrist by getting a referral from a GP. Most work in private practice, but some work in clinics or hospitals
Mental Health Nurses
Mental health nurses are registered nurses who have specialised training in caring for people with mental difficulties.
Nurses of mental health generally care for more severe illnesses who are treated in the hospitals or in the community.
They can provide assistance with medication, practical support and counselling.
Occupational Therapists and Social Workers
Most work in health or welfare services, however, some have additional training in mental health and are registered by Medicare.
They can provide similar treatments to psychologist and get excellent results.
Can provide psychological support. A well-qualified counsellor may also be a psychologist or other registered professional.
Some counsellors may have specific training and skills in an area such as drug and alcohol.
Unless a counsellor is registered by Medicare, the client cannot claim a Medicare rebate and will have to pay the full fee.
Alternative & Holistic Therapy
• NLP & Life Coaching
• Time Line Therapy ®
• Light Therapy
• Guided Meditation
Recovery involves the development of new meaning and purpose in one’s life as one grows beyond the negative effects of mental difficulties.
Some of the cornerstones of recovery are hope, willingness and responsible action by both the person seeking help and the helpers, education, self-advocacy and support.
People do recover from mental illness and difficulties. Mental stress effects everyone differently and the recovery journey is always different for each person.
Recovery can progress slowly or quickly.
Many factors contribute to recovery, including:
• Having good support from family and friends,
• Finding a meaningful role in society through employment or education opportunities.
• Receiving professional help early.
• Getting the best possible treatments for the individual and the person’s willingness and ability to take on opportunities available.
Mental health is everyone’s business.
The attitudes and beliefs that society has about mental health have a powerful impact on someone’s mental health and recovery.