I invite you to visit also my literary blog: Journeys in Creative Writing where I post original fiction including short stories, poetry and 'Paternity', a full length mystery novel.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Do you know a family who is coping with mental illness?

Almost one in four Australians suffer a mental illness at some time in their lives. This figure is increasing rapidly, and the problem is typical in many nations in the world.

It's wise to think about all of the loved ones affected by this dilemma. Think about the families, the friends, the employers, employees, the neighbours, the spouses, the siblings, the tax payers whose lives are directly touched, and we have a reasonable picture of the size of this issue.

And yet we don't speak about it openly. We're more likely to be silent about mental illness, aggravating the impact.

By remaining silent we're going along with stigma, a societal attitude that brings great suffering and stifles hope of a better future for everyone involved. Our silence allows politicians and society generally to ignore the problem - gives them a passport not to do anything to fix it.

We ourselves can help combat stigma through educating ourselves and spreading knowledge surrounding mental illness.

If we understand something fear tends to dissipate. That's where this video comes in.

I was impressed when I found it this morning on an excellent site Living in Stigma written by a person who suffers depression and, as an inevitable result, stigma that goes along with the disease. She has no choice, she says.

The video is Removing the Stigma of Mental Illness by lifestarmedic1. It's from Canada, but equally relevant to your home town!

Take a short break and find out what this is all about ...

Now, next time you're at the local library find a book about mental illness, learn more, and spread the word. You'd be doing everyone a favour, for no-one knows where mental illness will strike next.

Here are links to some of the many very good Australian web sites on mental health:

Schizophrenia Fellowship

Sane Australia

Victoria's Mental Health Services

Multicultural Mental Health Australia

Mental Health Council of Australia

Black Dog Institute


  1. June, Thank you for this post. I have a niece that has suffered from panic attacks for years. She was a registered nurse with a wonderful career and all of a sudden she started having panic attacks. She lost her job and had to go on disability. She lives like a hermit most of the time locked up inside her house afraid to go out. I lived with her for a year and this is a terrible illness. In the last few years she seems to be a little better and gets out more. I can't imagine what it must be like to suffer from something like this and the books and videos are right, people do not understand or else they don't want to understand. I am going to check out some of the sites, too.

  2. Thanks for sharng your experience with tragedy that can come about because of mental illness Judy.
    It is so sad that what has happened to your niece is more common than any of us would wish. So many with mental illness are highly intelligent sensitive people. The real tragedy is that all mental illness is treatable with the right support and facilities.
    You're right that many in our communities don't understand and many maintain cemented attitudes without knowledge of the issues.
    I find time and again that once people have information and/or close experience with these illnesses that they do change and many develop empathy for those involved.
    The trick is to talk about these things, as you have done, and learn as much as possible.
    Enjoy the mental health links!
    Goodonyer Judy
    June in Oz

  3. Judy - I need to put in a bit of clarification with the above.
    Of course I meant that the real tragedy was that all mental illness is treatable with the right support and facilities but that those things are rarely available when they're needed so badly.

  4. It came out in the paper here in America not long ago that one person out of five familys there is mental illness. I think it is more like one out of five people would be better said. It was in my mothers family.

  5. Thanks for your comment Patsie. Yes, I agree that figures are higher than 'one in five families'. Here in Oz statisticians have been saying for years that the figure is one in five people. Recently however, what with increased stress in society and the use of serious drugs such as Ice the incidence is certainly growing and one in four people is being quoted more and more here.
    Thanks for understanding the issues. Your family is certainly not alone! The more we talk about these illnesses the more possible it is that justice cannot be denied.

  6. June, I just found my way here from Judy's blog, The View From Over the Hill. I am very excited to have the chance to read about life in Australia.

    Thank you for sharing this information about mental illness. The more we talk about it, the better. My sister has lived with a diagnosis of clinical depression for many years and they are just now realizing she might be "Bipolar 2" which calls for entirely different medications and the old depression meds might have actually been making her condition worse.

    She recently had an episode and went to the local (we are in New Mexico) hospital emergency room for help.

    The story of "What Happened Next" is like something from the Middle Ages--the way she was treated was absolutely unexpected and awful. It's a bit too long to relate here, but the whole thing can be seen on my blog at

    Just when we think we're somewhat civilized, something horrifying like this happens.

    I hope that the treatment of the mentally ill is better in your part of the world. Thank you again for starting this discussion.

  7. Thanks to lifesatarmedic1 for contacting me about this post. I'm so pleased you're happy to have your video here - it's much appreciated you can be sure.
    I have left a comment on You Tube for you.

  8. Dear Clairz
    Thanks for your comment and the chance to read your sister's story on
    I read it very late last night and I'm afraid that when I went to bed I tossed and turned for an hour or two as a result.
    Life is so unfair for sufferers - so blameless and yet so blamed.
    Thanks for being an understanding sister to her.
    We can but encourage people to learn and empathise about mental illness in its many forms.
    I will leave a comment on her blog too.


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