Updated: Oct 16, 2019
World Mental Health Day, an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, occurs annually on 10 October. World Mental Health Day aims to promote global mental health education, awareness and advocacy and to raise public awareness of mental health issues.
What is Mental Health?
According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is ‘a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. ’
Mental Illness on the other hand is defined as a clinically diagnosable disorder that significantly interferes with an individual's cognitive, emotional or social abilities (as defined in The National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008).
It is noted that 1 in every 5 Australians — about 4 million people — suffers from a mental illness in a given year, and almost half the population has suffered a mental disorder at some time in their life. The most common mental disorders are depression, anxiety and substance use disorders.
In 2017-18, 3.2 million Australians (13.1%) had an anxiety-related condition.
Depression or Feeling of Depression
Just over one in ten people (10.4%) had depression or feelings of depression in 2017-18.
Anxiety and depression commonly occur together, with around 1.5 million Australians (6.1%) having both an anxiety-related condition and depression or feelings of depression in 2017-18.
How to Manage
It is clear from the figures that mental health problems and mental illness are very common in Australia. So why don't we talk about it more, support each other and normalise help seeking? We all experience personal challenges or issues in our lives. Often we deal with these times by talking to friends or family, or trying to deal with things ourselves. There are times, however, when issues are too much for us to manage on our own, or cannot be resolved by support from our friends or family.
Seeking help need not be a difficult or fraught process there are many types of assistance available, from help lines (life line 13 11 14, MensLine 1300 789 978 ), free Australian based web sites like MindSpot https://mindspot.org.au/ and individual counselling and many others.
Many people seek help by trying to raise their mental health concerns with their GP and may be offered a referral to a psychologist as part of a mental health care plan or a prescription for medication.
There are other options for when the 6 to 10 sessions with a psychologist are completed or your health insurance rebates are exhausted and you feel you still need support to mange your mental health and well being into the longer term.
At such times, seeking ongoing support and strategies from a professional such as a counsellor can be helpful.
What is Counselling
A counsellor is a trained, objective professional with whom you can build a healing and trusting relationship. They are trained to offer different types of assistance; most frequently talking-based styles of therapy.
Counselling is a process of talking about and working through your personal problems with a counsellor. The counsellor helps you to address your problems in a positive way by helping you to clarify the issues, explore options, develop strategies and increase self-awareness. For some people, just the process of telling their story to a counsellor, and being listened to, is helpful.
A trained counsellor is someone trained to offer a talk-based therapy. There are many different types of talk-based therapy. Counselling provides confidential support. This means that everything you discuss with the counsellor is private, between you and the counsellor. The exception is when a counsellor has a duty of care to report something that threatens your wellbeing or the wellbeing of others. This legal requirement will be explained to you in your first counselling session.
There are many different types of counselling and approaches that counsellors use will vary.
Anyone who is struggling with a personal concern can seek counselling. No issue is too big or too small to ask for support. Common issues that people seek counselling for include:
grief and loss, communication and relationships issues, work and career issues, stress, anxiety and depression, life transitions such as the birth of a new baby, separation, divorce or the death of a family member or friend, parenting, addiction, abuse, trauma, self-esteem difficulties, exploring their gender identity and/or sexuality.
Professional qualifications of a counsellor
Do not assume that all counsellors are professionally qualified. There is no law in Australia that requires a person who provides a counselling service to have either qualifications or experience. This means that people without training or skills can call themselves counsellors or psychotherapists.
A trained counsellor has usually spent three or more years studying counselling at university, often at postgraduate level, or has an equivalent level of training in another accredited higher education institution.
There are two peak bodies that provide national standards for psychotherapists or counsellors in Australia – the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA).
It is important that you find a counsellor with the appropriate training and experience who suits you and your needs, and whom you feel comfortable with.
Sources and More Information
Retrieved from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mental-illness