Why you need to care about your mental health

25.09.17

With almost half of Australians aged 16-85 years experiencing a mental illness at some stage in their lives, it’s likely that we may find ourselves struggling with mental health problems or know someone who does.

This is why it can be useful to think of our mental health as a continuum, rather than a rigid divide between wellness and illness. As Bupa’s Healthier Minds month kicks off throughout October, we briefly explore what this means and how Bupa can help you get to – and stay at – the healthier end of the scale.

The mental health continuum

Every person’s state of mind can change over time depending on many factors, including how much personal and workplace stress they may be experiencing, lifestyle habits, and their genes. It makes sense to think about this variability as a continuum:

 

We all have capacity to move to the right of this continuum, shifting from healthy adaptive coping (green), through mild and reversible distress (yellow), to more severe, persistent difficulties that impact how we feel, think, behave, and interact with others (orange and red). The red block is the zone of mental illnesses/disorders, such as clinical depression, which only qualified health professionals can diagnose.

Picturing yourself, your friends, family and workmates sharing space along the continuum can encourage better understanding of mental health and wellbeing in all of us. In turn, this helps reduce the stigma for those who find themselves heading to the right of the sliding scale, to hopefully make it easier for them to reach out for help.

And in fact, one in five of us end up in the red zone in any given year. The good news is, most mental illnesses can be effectively treated, so there’s always the possibility of a return to healthier, happier living.

Take a jump to the left!

This is what ‘healthier minds’ is all about – supporting people, wherever they are on the continuum, to take a jump to the left. Throughout this month we’ll be sending you articles to help raise awareness, challenge stigma around mental health issues, and promote tools and resources available to help you be healthier and happier.

So whether you’re in the yellow zone and want to develop new positive and healthy habits such as work-life balance, or you or someone you know is in the orange or red zones and require some level of professional support, stay tuned as we share more helpful hints and information in relation to the mental health spectrum throughout October.

Sources

Australian Government. Department of Health. What is mental illness? [Online; last updated May 2007; accessed Sep 2016] Available from: www.health.gov.au

Australian Government. Mindframe National Media Initiative. Mental illness facts and statistics [Online; accessed Sep 2016] Available from: www.mindframe-media.info

Black Dog Institute. Facts and figures about mental health and mood disorders [Online; last updated Oct 2012; accessed Sep 2016] Available from: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

Bridging the Distance. Peer support. You play a role in prevention & peer assistance [Online; accessed Sep 2016] Available from: www.bridgingthedistance.com