Today is World Mental Health Day.
Mental health is an issue that’s close to my heart as most people who read this blog know. You followed along with me as I walked the Cape to Cape track in Western Australia last year to raise money and awareness of antenatal and postnatal depression.
I’ve written about some of my struggles with depression before. I write about my mental health issues because I believe it’s important for people who are suffering from mental illness to know they aren’t alone. Many others, like me, have walked that dark road.
Mental health issues need to be normalised, not stigmatised. One in five adults in Australia suffer from depression every year. And almost half of Australians will suffer a mental illness in their lifetime.
The more we talk about mental health issues, the more people realise they are not alone and seek help when they need it.
Too often mental illness is the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Five years ago today I launched a nationwide campaign called: Mental Health- the Elephant in the Room. The focal point of the campaign centred around a herd of life-sized inflatable elephants that I sent out to various hospitals, shopping centres and other public places to get people talking about mental health. That campaign is one of the highlights of my professional career and I’m happy to see on Instagram today that ‘my’ herd have been out and about across Australia again this year even though I’m no longer at that job.
(Fun fact: At one point, I owned and was responsible for every life-sized inflatable elephant that ‘lived’ in Australia. I was quite glad they weren’t real elephants and I didn’t have to feed them.)
The elephants were, and still are, a great conversation starter in the mental health sphere. I fully believe that when we go to the doctor, we should be asked our family mental illness history as well as our family physical illness history. Studies show over and over again the link between physical and mental health and doctors should be encouraged to look at both together, not in isolation.
I look forward to the day when everyone feels confident talking about their mental health struggles openly – when those struggles aren’t the ‘Elephant in the Room’, but until then I’m going to keep doing my bit wherever I can to help educate people and be there for those who share their struggle with me.
I wish you good mental health today.