CEO Update - 'Do you see what I see?'

Over the last decade or so we’ve come so far in reducing stigma. I am heartened to see my own children and their friends having conversations that were simply not possible when I was their age.

This week alone, World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK Day have continued to raise awareness and encourage people to seek, and provide help to family and friends.

We’ve come so far, but still have so far to go.  Stigma, and the discrimination associated with it, is still the biggest hurdle we have to climb when it comes to mental illness.

This World Mental Health Day – 10 October - Mental Health Australia is calling on the nation to further reduce stigma and promise to see mental health in a more positive light.

‘Do you see what I see?’ challenges perceptions on mental illness and aims to reduce stigma.

‘Do you see what I see?’ promotes a positive approach to tackling an issue that affects one in five Australians.

‘Do you see what I see?’ aims to shed a new light on the mental health conversation… and will again incorporate the successful #MentalHealthPromise initiative, which last year saw the Governor General, Prime Minister and Opposition Leader and thousands more Australians make a mental health promise to themselves.

We’ve all seen it before… The stock black and white photo of someone sitting with their head in their hands signifying despair, and signifying mental illness. That’s stigma… and stigma is still the number one barrier to people seeking help. Help that can prevent, help that can aid recovery, help that can treat.

As a nation we have to see things differently, and we have to see the benefit of tackling this issue if we are to see real reductions in the rate of mental illness affecting our community.

We have to see mental health, and mental wealth, not through stereo-types, but through the eyes of a family member or close friend, and through the eyes of those in our community who don’t have the support they need.

We have to see tackling stigma around mental health not as a cost, but as an investment: as a way to improve the health of the nation, improve our productivity, improve our community engagement, and improve our quality of life.

Yes we’ve come a long way to challenge and change perceptions, and paved the way for many to tell their story, but there is still so much stigma associated with mental illness, and much more to do.

So this year, for World Mental Health Day – 10 October - my #mentalhealthpromise is to challenge Australia to look at mental health through a different light, in positive bright colour, not black and white.

Let’s look at the positives we can achieve as a community by reducing stigma.

What will your #MentalHealthPromise be?

Warm regards

Frank Quinlan, CEO Mental Health Australia

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