SPE­CIAL RE­PORT: MEN­TAL HEALTH

To co­in­cide with R U OK? Day on Septem­ber 8, DOLLY read­ers share their thoughts and feel­ings on men­tal ill­ness.

Dolly - - Contents -

We get se­ri­ous about an im­por­tant topic for R U OK? Day.

WHAT DO YOU GUYS KNOW ABOUT MEN­TAL ILL­NESS?

JOSS: We have lots of pro­grams at school that teach about it, be­cause the rates in my year were about 50 per cent of peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing either de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety. So it’s a big deal. Our school coun­sel­lor said that about 90 per cent of Year 12 students will, at some point, go to visit him dur­ing their fi­nal year. ANICA: I think it should be an open dis­cus­sion in high school, even in pri­mary! Many men­tal ill­nesses have an early on­set but peo­ple aren’t open or con­fi­dent enough to talk about it. Their dis­or­ders aren’t treated and be­come more se­vere.

DO YOU EVER SEE POSTS ABOUT DE­PRES­SION, SUI­CIDE OR CUT­TING ON SO­CIAL ME­DIA?

JOSS: You might see pic­tures where peo­ple have cut them­selves. It’s scary, and at my school it’s a big is­sue be­cause we’re very aca­demic and it’s re­ally stressful.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE POSTS LIKE THIS?

LUKA: It depends on what they are say­ing – be­cause if some­one has that is­sue, I would ex­pect that they would talk to their friends about it. So, if some­one posts about it and they gain lots of likes, it seems like they’re not try­ing to get help but in­stead try­ing to get peo­ple to feel sorry for them. ANICA: I feel like it’s eas­ier to talk about sui­cide, de­pres­sion or any type of men­tal ill­ness with some­one you have a per­sonal con­nec­tion with, whereas on so­cial me­dia it’s all about build­ing a so­cial im­age or a pub­lic pro­file.

DO YOU THINK IT’S TOUGHER FOR GUYS TO OPEN UP ABOUT MEN­TAL ILL­NESS BE­CAUSE OF THE PRES­SURE TO ‘MAN-UP’?

LUKA: It is a big thing for males now, like a cou­ple of years back males couldn’t re­ally share be­cause it wasn’t the manly thing to do. Now it is just an open thing, it’s OK and not shame­ful to do.

LOUIS: I feel like now it’s start­ing to get bet­ter. More sports­peo­ple are open­ing up about it, so guys feel more com­fort­able to talk about it.

DO YOU THINK THERE IS TOO MUCH PRES­SURE PLACED ON TEENS TO­DAY?

LOUIS: Since I’m 14 I don’t have to deal with the stress that peo­ple when they’re older have to deal with. I don’t have any big ex­ams or any­thing like that so I’m not re­ally feel­ing the stress at the mo­ment. JOSS: Ev­ery­one dur­ing school is deal­ing with either fam­ily or friend­ship is­sues, so some peo­ple are get­ting top marks and some won’t be. You get to school and ev­ery­one is judged the same and you start to feel like your whole life is an exam. There are so many dif­fer­ent path­ways to get into uni – it’s not al­ways about your ATAR. It’s hard when you think what you do in this exam is go­ing to tell whether you get a 99 ATAR or not. LUKA: I think there’s a point where you just feel the weight of the whole world placed on your back. I have a friend, his par­ents are re­ally hard on him – they ex­pect him to get over 90 (ATAR)! Even if he gets the top mark at school, he’s re­ally stressed out. It be­comes an over­load.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO HAN­DLE THE PRES­SURE?

ANICA: I just take a step back from the sit­u­a­tion and get bet­ter self-con­fi­dence by do­ing things I en­joy, like meet­ing up with friends. When I feel like I am in a bet­ter state of mind, I talk about it with my friends to get a bet­ter per­spec­tive and think about it in a more log­i­cal sense. LUKA: I go for a run – the long­est run pos­si­ble! It clears my head. BELLA: I write down ev­ery sin­gle thing that’s on my mind so that it’s out on pa­per, then I go through and see what I can get done. It calms me down – writ­ing things down re­ally helps. Then I just put on a movie and try to block out everything [else] while fo­cus­ing on what I need to do the next day. When you do [each task], you can cross it off and it’s one less thing you have to worry about. JOSS: If I have a lot to deal with, I just di­vide up what I need to do. If it’s all in very small pieces, then I can re­lax. If I have a lot of pres­sure, usu­ally I just go out­side, go to the beach, go for a drive with my mates – spend some time es­cap­ing from it.

”OUR SCHOOL COUN­SEL­LOR SAID THAT 90 PER CENT OF YEAR 12 STUDENTS WILL VISIT HIM DUR­ING THEIR FI­NAL YEAR.”

JOSS, 17

LUKA, 18

BELLA, 19

ANICA, 19

LOUIS, 14

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