First step to heal­ing is to look for help

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - OPINION -

YOUTH Fo­cus is en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple liv­ing with men­tal health is­sues to be coura­geous and seek help dur­ing Men­tal Health Week.

Fol­low­ing the re­lease Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics’ 2015 Causes of Death data, which showed that there were more than 3000 deaths from sui­cide in a year for the first time, the Burswood-based or­gan­i­sa­tion wants peo­ple to use men­tal health ser­vices.

Youth Fo­cus chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Fiona Kalaf said the sta­tis­tics, in­clud­ing 394 deaths from sui­cide in WA, were un­ac­cept­able.

“From Youth Fo­cus’ per­spec­tive, we would like to see gov­ern­ments and in­di­vid­u­als talk more openly about men­tal ill­ness,” she said.

“We have seen more than 18,000 peo­ple since 2000 and only one of those have been lost to sui­cide; 92 per cent of those peo­ple have de­pres­sion and 77 per cent have anx­i­ety.

“It’s im­por­tant for peo­ple to be brave and seek help be­cause it does re­duce the risk of sui­cide.

“About 50 per cent of Aus­tralians will ex­pe­ri­ence men­tal ill­ness at some point at their lives and I think ev­ery­one has been af­fected first­hand or through a loved one.”

Ms Kalaf said early in­ter­ven­tion was a key point that the or­gan­i­sa­tion was push­ing dur­ing Men­tal Health Week.

“There are ben­e­fits from seek­ing help, whether that’s from fam­ily, school coun­sel­lors, sports coaches, em­ploy­ees, GPs or clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists,” she said.

“About 70 per cent of all men­tal health ill­nesses are present be­fore age 25 but some peo­ple wait un­til they are in their 40s be­fore they seek help.

“The bar­ri­ers to seek­ing help can be knowl­edge of the signs or men­tal ill­ness or the ser­vices avail­able, ac­ces­si­bil­ity of ser­vices and the big­gest bar­rier is the stigma of men­tal health is­sues.”

Ms Kalaf said her tips for peo­ple to stay men­tally healthy was to stay hy­drated, ex­er­cise and eat well.

Youth Fo­cus chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Fiona Kalaf.

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