This Thursday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day. This international day for global mental health education is a great initiative, particularly in Australia where one in five Australians experience mental health concerns each year, and particularly at the University of Sydney where statistically speaking, a large proportion of our university’s attendees are likely dealing with mental health issues.
According to the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), roughly 25% of 16 to 24 year old Australians have lived experience with mental illness — either personally or through others they know. A contributing factor to this can be stress onset by university is life. University is hard, it really is. Studying, attending class, getting assignments in on time, working (multiple) jobs, scraping by financially, social commitments, etc. It can all get overwhelming from time to time and lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and sometimes develop into serious mental health issues.
For this reason and others, World Mental Health Day’s primary objective in Australia this year is to encourage behaviour that seeks help. Often those in need of help are either too proud, unwilling to talk about it with others or are completely unaware that something may be up. This is often because seeking mental health help is not an easy thing to do. It is surrounded by stigma and it is not just like mending a broken bone. Seeking help for mental health is not about being fixed, it is about case-by-case management and what works for the affected individual.
Thankfully though there are free tools available for managing certain stages of mental health. Arguably the most accessible and reputable of these is myCompass, an online program developed by Professor Judy Proudfoot from Black Dog Institute, a world leader in mental health research. Accessible online anywhere and anytime, myCompass (www.mycompass.org.au) is a voluntary self-help tool designed to reduce stress, anxiety and depression symptoms. By simply singing up, it allows users to self-monitor their moods and learn skills to manage their situation.
“Research clearly shows that early psychological intervention can reverse mild to moderate symptoms of depression and anxiety,” says myCompass developer Professor Judy Proudfoot. “MyCompass has been designed to support people that may not seek help because of lack of time, lack of access to face-to face services or a fear of stigma”.
Whilst not a substitute for clinical help, it provides an easy-to-use self-help tool that can make a huge difference to those in need. So if you feel you need help this World Mental Health Day, seek it. Help defeat the stigma surrounding mental health and help yourself along the way.