SANE Campaign to Promote Social Connection
12 July 2016 at 10:03 am
Not for Profit SANE Australia has launched a nationwide awareness campaign in a bid to improve the social connection and mental health outcomes for four million Australians affected by complex mental illness.
The stories of eight Australians affected by bipolar, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, anorexia, major depression and suicide will be broadcast throughout rural and regional Australia as well as in Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane as part of the campaign.
SANE Australia said as the mental health sector continues to face funding uncertainty, people can visit SANE Online Forums to get the help they need via an anonymous and professionally moderated service accessible 24 hours a day.
SANE Australia CEO Jack Heath said there were 690,000 Australians living with complex mental illness.
“For every one of these people there will be at least five family members, friends, work colleagues or other people they know who are directly affected by their condition. This equates to more than four million Australians grappling with the challenges of complex mental illness on a daily basis,” Heath said.
“Peer support remains a largely untapped resource across the community and is proving to be a cost effective way for individuals and carers to build connections and work through their shared experience of emotional and psychological pain.
“While as a nation we have made real advances in reducing stigma around mild to moderate mental health conditions, there is still a great deal of work to be done to help those at the more severe end of the spectrum.
“Research shows that far too often people affected by complex mental illness do not seek the help they so desperately need because they consider themselves a burden, or because they are ashamed of their situation.
“These feelings are far greater than for the general population and it’s reflected in suicide figures – people living with bipolar, borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders and PTSD are 10 to 45 times more likely to take their own lives.”
Heath said while research showed that living in a rural or regional area does not result in a higher risk of mental illness, when mental health problems do occur, there are less supports on the ground to help people in their time of need.
“Lack of services, a culture of self reliance, stigma and often having limited access to a busy general practitioner are all major barriers for people battling complex mental illness in rural and regional Australia,” he said.
“We know that safe, online communities like the SANE Online Forums can offer hope and support to people who might not otherwise receive it. They also help reduce stigma and discrimination and encourage help-seeking behaviour.
“At a time of limited funding for mental health, scaling-up existing models of one-to-one care would add many billions of dollars to the health bill.
“The SANE Online Forums enable people who have grappled with complex mental illness for many years to offer something special to others just starting off on the journey – now one person’s struggle can offer hope and meaning to so many others.”