Today Beyond Blue launched their national campaign to combat Anxiety with this video. Beyond Blue has been my source for information, help and finding a place to feel that I am not the only person who is feeling this way for many years. I would read the personal stories for hours on end, feeling a connection through the computer.
Today I read a post made on the Beyond Blue Facebook page by a loved one of someone who had committed suicide. She said that she wished her daughter had known about them because it might have saved her life but that they don’t let people know about them enough and so it was too late. It got me thinking, about suicide awareness, corporations like Beyond Blue and the public.
I both agree and disagree with this womans statement. I can see the thought behind her words, but feel that maybe her idea that awareness alone could have saved her daughter felt flawed. I will never begrudge anyone who is speaking about their experiences, awareness helps to rid stigma of Mental Illness. Stigma plays a big part in stopping people from seeking the help that they need. The thoughts that asking for help is a sign of weakness or that you are ‘crazy’ are prevelant in society, making people wary of going to their GP or family members.
I do however feel that the removal of stigma is just one piece of the Mental Illness treatment puzzle. Removing stigma is important in moving toward acceptance but it is not the only answer to reducing the amount of suicides in our society. Once a person reaches out, asks for the help they so desperately need, there needs to someone on the other end who has some kind of idea what they are doing. A person may read information on a website, a flyer in their doctor surgery or see an advertisement on the television and still not feel comfortable in reaching out. Along with awareness, we need education, not just for the family and friends but for the doctors, nurses and other medical personnel that the person will encounter along the way.
Imagine feeling the weight lifted off your shoulders when you have finally gathered all of your courage up to ask for help…only to have it thrown back in your face because the medical professional you dealt with has no education on dealing with Mental Illness. One would think that dealing with a patient who is suffering from a depressive episode, or a panic attack wouldn’t require more than a bit of empathy, but sadly not all doctors or nurses seem to possess this. I hope that through education in the workplace that stigma will by default begin to decrease.
If you or someone you know is suffering please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14