Starting the conversation

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The purpose of Mental Health Day, Week and Month is to raise awareness of the variety of issues people may face, to highlight the help and support that is available, and to destigmatise the subject a bit as well.

The key theme here is getting people to talk more freely about mental health. 

Whether it affects you or someone near you, the only way anyone ever gets the help they need is if they reach out, or if someone successfully reaches out to them.

October 10 is officially World Mental Health Day. Australia’s first national Mental Health Week was 1985, and some states now declare all of October to be Mental Health Month. 

In 2015 the ABC began broadcasting stories during Mental Health Week that related to mental health in some way as part of an initiative that they’ve called Mental As.

One of its aims is also to address the stigma and encourage people to talk about mental health more often.

A phrase you’re probably going to hear quite a few times this week is; we need to get the conversation going.

One thing we tend to forget when we’re talking about mental health is the fact that the brain is just another squishy organ of the body that needs to be nurtured and nourished, and treated correctly if it gets sick.

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That may oversimplify things from a medical standpoint, but it does at least convey an attitude that addresses the stigma.

There are hundreds of conditions that can be diagnosed with the brain. Some are there from birth. Some are the result of external influences (such as the pressures we feel, a traumatic experience we may go through, or perhaps the result of an injury). Some are typically associated with age.

Some are obvious to a casual observer with no medical training. Most are not. Some are extremely difficult for even the best professionals to diagnose accurately.

One of the simple ways you can help is educating yourself a bit about the topic of mental health.

It’s really important to know what to do if someone does reach out to you.

You don’t need to have any of the answers, but simply listening and letting someone feel that you care can make a big difference.

It also depends on what they are suffering from as to what professional help might be beneficial.

They may even be seeing a doctor or counsellor already and just need someone to talk to right now.

It doesn’t take much effort to be that person.

If you or someone you know needs to reach out, some of the free services available to you 24/7 are:

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