In the news you might have heard about the Productivity Commissions draft report on Mental Health that’s just been released, with some pretty shocking figures. It talks about the costs of mental health on Australia as a whole, and how education, services and workplaces need to make changes that promote good mental health for everyone.
It’s a really important topic, as aside from the human impacts of poor mental health on Australians (how it affects you, your family and those around you), the economic costs of lost productivity due to mental ill-health ranges from $10 to $18 billion every year.
The report talks about how important the need for change is to Australia’s mental health system, including:
- At school – regular screening of mental health, just like physical health checks. More training for teachers to help address mental health, more specific services to help and also to take the pressure off teachers. Following up with students who have been affected by mental health issues.
- Service providers – making mental health services better and more easily available for everyone, regardless of time, location, income etc.
- Support – the provision of essential support from counselling to housing for people who are struggling with the effects of poor mental health.
- Workplaces – need to address the roles they play in their employees mental health and be willing to make changes to ensure that fewer people suffer from mental health issues at work or because of work.
Mental health and you
Mental health is a really hard thing to define and for lots of us to understand. Essentially, it’s about how good we feel about ourselves and our lives.
Looking after your mental health is important for so many reasons, because living your best life should be your number one priority. Asking for help when you’re struggling is just like going to the Dr when you’re sick, it’s taken seriously and there’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.
If you experience high levels of mental health (i.e. you feel happy, not too stressed, and overall think life is going well), it’s associated with increased learning, creativity and productivity, more positive social behaviours and relationships, along with improved physical health and life expectancy.
In contrast, mental health conditions (i.e. stress, depression, anxiety, feeling unhappy but unsure why or what to do about it), can cause distress, impact negatively on your daily life and relationships. Poor mental health is also associated with poor physical health because our bodies react to messages from our brains (conscious and unconscious thoughts). Ultimately, poor mental health that goes undetected and untreated can even be linked to suicide.
What can you do to look after your mental health?
There’s lots of things that you can do to help safeguard your mental health when you’re at school, uni or working:
- Staying active
- Meditating, yoga, or other techniques that help make you feel calmer
- Getting lots of sleep
- Eating well
- A healthy work-life balance at all stages of your life and career
- Asking for help when you are not feeling happy or well
- Asking for help if you feel like you are not coping or feel stressed
- Asking for help if you feel depressed, anxious, bullied
- Choosing a career that will make you happy and be rewarding (not just financially, but that stimulates you, interests you etc.)
At Study Work Grow, we understand how important mental health and wellbeing is, and we regularly post information, facts, tips and more about the topic.