Last week was a double whammy in Mental Health Awareness with World Suicide Prevention Day on Wednesday (the 10th) and R U OK Day on Thursday (the 11th). People were posting messages of support to their loved ones and it was great to see so many people shining a light on Mental Health.
I think it’s great that there are days devoted to Mental Health Awareness, days where it’s almost applauded to share stories of our struggles. However I do wonder just how effective these days really are. I’ve had a bit of reservation about R U OK Day in its simplicity for a while now and the more I thought about it, picking it apart, the less OK I felt about the whole thing.
While on the surface I absolutely agree that the conversation needs to be started, we need to be talking about mental illness, it needs to be made less of a taboo. I do worry about the long term good that it does. Many of us are unequipped to deal with someone who may share with us that they are having struggles mentally. I don’t think that they day should be scrapped all together, but I do think that more information needs to be provided.
This year R U OK Day introduced the Mateship movement and included resources on their page about how to ask the question and more importantly, how to help them once they answer. I really think this is a great step in the right direction. However this kind of information needs to be more readily available. Many people aren’t aware of the help that they can access to help with any mental health issues they may be experiencing.
People are left in the dark when it comes to taking the next step. There are massive amounts of information on the internet but it can be quite overwhelming trying to navigate this while you or a loved one are in a crisis. Many of these resources also have limited funding and so people in need are turned away. Rural, small towns see the worst of it. Without transport, the mentally ill are isolated, unable to seek treatment, if there is any available.
The government needs to step up and start providing funding to the public system. A person shouldn’t have to be in crisis in order for them to receive adequate treatment. We are a developed country and yet the way the mentally ill are treated is still very much miles behind the eight ball. Unless you can afford private health cover or pay out of your own pocket, then mental health treatment is very limited. The rate of mental illness, isn’t getting less and yet the funding is being cut more and more each year.
It’s simply not enough to start the conversation. There needs to be more than a conversation. It’s disheartening when you finally gather enough courage to reach out for help, that you are told to go away, you aren’t sick enough, there is no place for you here, our units are filled to the brim. Something needs to give, and I’m afraid it will continue to be the mentally ill.
Linking up with Jess for IBOT!