Mental illness impacts many people today in Australia however not everyone seeks help, and not everyone feels comfortable.
Nearly two years ago my mum attempted suicide. It wasn’t the first, it probably won’t be the last but from my perspective it was one of the worst. She ended up in an induced coma for a week, and just a little over a month in the psychiatric ward. It changed everything. I feel that many people shamed her for the attempt including some of the hospital staff. I’m sure they wouldn’t have felt the same if they knew she was a victim of sexual abuse as a child, but even if that wasn’t the case it’s still never ok to shame someone for something they can’t help. She’s been diagnosed with depression and now anxiety (although it usually coincides, it didn’t present itself until just before the attempt) and borderline personality disorder.
They are several points I want to make by telling this story, my story. The first is that if our society didn’t have the view that mental illnesses are weak or made up, perhaps my mum could have got the help she needed sooner, and perhaps she wouldn’t have made that attempt. The second point is that now I feel like I can’t talk to her about what’s bothering me and I can’t even get slightly angry with her.
Society needs to change. We need a better system in place to identify those suffering from mental illness and not shame them but actually provide them with the help they need. We need health care professionals and emergency services to have more thorough training on how to respond to those with mental illnesses and suicidal tendencies. But we also need to support their families. My family has many other problems and these are only exacerbated by the fact that we can’t talk it out without feeling like my Mum is going to get upset and make attempt. If there was a supporting environment for families to talk it out and get the ongoing support they need without breaking the budget it would be a relief. As individuals we also need to remember the longer that we stand here and do nothing, the more families and friends are going to lose someone they love to something that can be helped. The longer it takes for these people to integrate back into society and make a difference to our community, the longer it will take for them to also make active contributions to our economy. Leaving those with mental illnesses without help and support only has detrimental effects to our society.
When we get the flu we go to the doctor. When we break a leg, or get into a car accident, we go to the hospital. Mental illnesses are our minds falling ill, so why don’t we treat them the same?