Mental Illness

Standing Up For People With Mental Illness

You may recall that just yesterday the 12th of September was RUOK day. A day devoted to suicide prevention as well as standing up for people who are living with mental illness.

Today I read an interesting yet very sad article on how many people living with mental illness are treated.  In her article Caring For A Mind in Crisis Dr Pauline Chen highlights the many barriers people suffering in silence have in front of them just to get treated.

Having worked within the mental health system I know sadly too well just how poorly our most vulnerable patients are treated.

Cries for help are ignored, minimised or treated with dangerous platitudes such as “you’ll be fine”, “Cheer up” or those embarrassing silences from people who just don’t know what to do.

As part of RUOK day for me I created a brief video. A guide that may help empower people to dare ask the question, “Are you ok?”, “Are you worried you may harm yourself in some way?”.

Help Save A Life In Mental Illness

By far the most important points I hope to impart:

  • Asking about suicide does not lead to a person harming themselves. You can’t “put the idea in their head” by acknowledging suicide. Asking the question is the first step to a person getting help.
  • If a person tells you they are worried they may harm themselves it’s not your job to “fix” the problem. All you need to do is be with the person and help them get the care they need. Whether that be helping them get an appointment for a GP or perhaps going with them to the emergency department. Be there with them, and do what you can get get them to the safety of medical care.

One in 5 people will suffer with anxiety or depression at some stage in their life.

It’s time we stopped pretending that mental illness doesn’t exist and allow people the care and help that can save their life.

Yours in good health.

Dr George

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