Today is World Mental Health Day. It is an opportunity to talk and think about how we perceive mental illness in Australia, including removing any stigma around it.
One in five Australians is affected by mental illness each year, yet many don’t seek help because of stigma.
Supporting mental health and suicide prevention is the Government’s highest health priority, and is a central feature of our Long Term National Health Plan. It is also a personal priority for the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and myself.
Under the Plan, our aim is to deliver the world’s best mental health system – stigma-free and focused on prevention, starting with children under 12 years of age.
World Mental Health Day seeks to challenge perceptions about mental illness in Australia, and encourages everyone to look at mental health in a more positive light.
Enormous progress has been made on destigmatisation, but stigma against people living with mental illness is still prevalent, with almost three out of four people with mental illness in Australia experiencing it. Stigma also includes self-stigma – people’s self-consciousness about their own mental health concerns. It is the main barrier to people seeking help.
The Government will continue to tackle stigma around mental illness and encourage people to seek help, and seek it early.
As a Government, and through the nation’s leaders, organisations, schools and the community, we will work to ensure there will be no shame – including no shame in our own mental health challenges – when people seek the help they need and deserve.
By reducing this stigma, and increasing understanding of mental illness, we help people to feel comfortable when they reach out.
Australia’s World Mental health Day activities are being coordinated by Mental Health Australia. People can participate in this year’s campaign by making a mental health promise on the national Mental Health Day website, www.1010.org.au
Tackling perceptions around mental illness and removing stigma is not just for a single World Mental Health Day – but every day.
People can visit the Government’s digital mental health gateway at www.headtohealth.gov.au for information, advice, and connection to a range of free and low-cost, phone and online mental health services.