Catering mental health tools to people in 2020
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
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Even before the world experienced a global pandemic, the way Australians have discussed and dealt with mental health has been changing year on year and with each generation.
Mental illness is very, and seemingly increasingly common in Australia. One in five (20.1%) Australians reported a mental or behavioural condition in 2017–18 – an increase from 17.5% (four million Australians) in 2014–15.
Mental Health awareness campaigns and charities such as R U OK day, Dolly's Dream, Lifeline Australia, The Black Dog Institute and The Polished man ,just to name a few, doing incredible work to remove the stigma and open up more conversations about mental health. One could argue that mental health becomes less taboo each year, particularly amongst younger generations and those in inner-city areas.
In 2020, Lifeline has seen a 25% increase in calls — initially driven by bushfires, and then coronavirus.
In Victoria, where a second wave has claimed hundreds of lives and seen thousands of people infected, the toll on the public's mental health has been pronounced, with Lifeline reporting a 22% increase in calls from the state. Has the fact that the entire world is experiencing a shared experience of a global pandemic allowed a 'normalisation' of anxiety and mental illness? Potentially allowing those who normally do not engage in mental health discussion or access services a feeling of safety from judgement to seek help.
For many with anxiety, going to see someone is difficult and during this pandemic many services are not offering face to face appointments. Thus, many people are opting for TeleHealth consults, subsidised by the federal government.
However, pandemic or not, many people report wanting to access services outside of the 'norm' of face-to-face or phone appointments. With changes in behaviour and communication, many people but specifically younger generations report preferring non-verbal communication. Therefore increasing availability for services requiring no speech are on the rise.
These services are also incredibly beneficial for people with a disability, those in vulnerable housing situations who may not have privacy to speak over the phone and many other reasons. An example of this is LifeLine, which introduced its SMS service. The service allows communication purely via text message. An extensive list of these services and their contact details is available here
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra.