Mental health help and awareness

This Wednesday, 10 October, is United Nations World Mental Health Day and this week is also Western Australia’s Mental Health Week.

These present us with an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues in our community. The World Health Organization encourages us all to have an open discussion of mental disorders and invest in prevention, promotion and treatment services.

This is because of the awful truth that mental illness is a major contributor to suicide. Research shows us that people with mental illness like depression, bipolar or schizophrenia are seven times more likely to end their life than people who do not suffer from mental illness.

Depression is the most common disorder which affects four per cent of the general population. More tragic, however, is that about 160,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 live with depression each year, which is why I welcome headspace in my electorate.

It is something I campaigned strongly for in the run to the election and have ever since. From 1 January next year young people aged from 20 to 25 years living in the greater Bunbury area will have access to pathways to help them through headspace.

Young people who suffer depression are also usually suffering from other problems in their lives such as drugs, alcohol and family problems.

Headspace will allow young people to face any range of these challenges and receive help by just walking in the door and telling their story just once.

By offering early intervention and professional help the centre will make a real difference to the lives of young people and the people who know and love them.

Everyone is impacted when suicide occurs—family, friends and the wider community, particularly in small regional communities.

Just starting a conversation, getting people to talk and open up about their problems, can play a major role in preventing a tragedy from occurring.

It has been shown that with support and treatment many who have attempted or contemplated ending their life go on to live a normal life.

Joshua Cunniffe, a 19-year-old man in my electorate, wrote a book about his own depression called Behind the Smile: a Story of Hope. It is a great book and Joshua is a fantastic young man.

I urge everyone in my electorate of Forrest who knows of a friend, colleague or family member who may be suffering from depression or any form of mental illness to get them help through a local GP or a local organisation such as Lifeline.

I commend the Piacentini company in my electorate. RU OK? Day was held recently. They got their workers to watch a video.

All the staff had a chat about whether they were okay. It is a great question to ask friends and family: are you okay?

If they are not, you can offer them the help and support that they might need throughout their lives. So we should ask the question: are you okay?