Awareness is a prerequisite for action: World Mental Health Day

Morgan Liotta

9/10/2019 1:17:40 PM

Gratitude, awareness and taking time out – three ways people can improve their own, and someone else’s, mental wellbeing.

Child offering a flower
A simple act of gratitude can make a difference to wellbeing, Dr Cathy Andronis believes.

Every 40 seconds.
That is how frequently someone in the world loses their life to suicide, the World Health Organization reports.
This year’s World Mental Health Day calls for ‘40 seconds of action’ to raise awareness of this stark statistic and mental health in general.
‘Awareness is a prerequisite for action – rather than feeling hopeless, individuals can be encouraged to do something different or purposeful to effect change in society.’ 
That is Dr Cathy Andronis, Chair of the RACGP Specific Interests Psychological Medicine network, talking to newsGP about the importance of everyone helping to raise community awareness of this ‘sad and shocking statistic’.
In Australia, mental health issues, including depression, anxiety and mood disorders, remain the number one reason people visit their GP, national data from the 2019 General Practice: Health of the Nation report confirmed.
These visits have been increasing in recent years, from 61% in 2017 to 65% in 2019.
New figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveal that 20% of all Australians experience a common mental health disorder during a 12-month period.
In 2017–18, 2.5 million people received Medicare-subsidised mental health services and 4.2 million received mental-health prescriptions.
Australia’s expenditure on mental health services in 2016–17 came in at $9.1 billion.
Mental Health Australia is calling on every member of the community to ‘make a promise’ to help reduce stigma associated with mental health issues and encourage people to seek support this World Mental Health Day.
Dr Andronis believes GPs can play a significant role in easing stigma and providing support to people who may be experiencing mental health issues. She recently told newsGP that best support for these patients involves discussing their concerns openly and compassionately.
Acknowledging the ‘40 seconds of action’ campaign, Dr Andronis suggests simple but meaningful acts of recognition and gratitude.
‘For instance, patients could be instructed to spend 40 seconds making a connection with someone in their community, perhaps a quick email organising coffee with a colleague at lunch time, or a very brief, “I just called to say hello” phone call to a loved one,’ she said.  
The recognition that the mental health of GPs is equally as important as for their patients is gaining traction. GP self-care was the key theme of the 2019 General Practice: Health of the Nation.
The report found that 84% of GPs have difficulty finding time to seek care for their own health, and four out of five delayed treatment or care in the past two years.
‘A GP could decide to take a 40-second break between patients ... or maybe stand and stretch and take a few deep breaths,’ Dr Andronis said.  
‘Forty seconds is also enough time for a gratitude exercise. What three things have occurred today that I feel grateful for?  
‘GP self-care is absolutely vital in maintaining good mental health – we should practice and model what we preach.’

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Dr Juanita Susan Ruiz   10/10/2019 7:54:31 AM

Dr Geoff Toogood will be speaking at the Windsor rd clinic masquerade ball tomorrow night, presented by Positive vibes foundation, a mental health charity which works to reduce stigma and raise awareness and connect communities with services.
There are still 10 seats available
Bivianos in Dural 6.30pm
There is a real need to look to the mental health of doctors too .

Dr Gnanasegaran Xavier   12/10/2019 8:35:23 PM

Hai mental health is most neglected,how many of us miss depression in our practice.The third party payers do not cover mental health.Many default follow up as they have to pay by themselves.Always keep your mind open and ask yourself,could it be that.I have 11 simple pictures and discuss with my patients.Thanks.