In Australia, over 7 million people aged 16 to 85 will experience a common mental illness during their lifetime. That is a massive 45% of people, and can include conditions such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder or susbstance abuse.

Arising problems from theseĀ  issues range in severity from reduction in productivity to employment, and poverty to homelessness. More than $6 billion is spent on mental health services in Australia each year.

Definition of mental health

The mental health of a person refers to their psychological well-being, and the level of confidence to appreciate and interact with other people on a regular basis. A person with a mental illness will have trouble thinking, behaving and interacting, and the severity can vary greatly between people.

These health issues can effect people from all walks of life, view the video above to see a range of people dealing with mental illnesses.

What promotes good mental health?

There are a number of ways we can improve our mental health:

  • get regular exercise
  • ensure healthy eating
  • get plenty of sleep
  • spend time with people you care about
  • be open and express your feelings
  • continuously learn new skills
  • have a wide range of hobbies
  • talk to your doctor

Getting a mental health assessment

Diagnosing a mental illness can be an important move forward, allowing you to take steps to deal with it and improve your quality of life. The illness comes about from an imbalance in the relationship between mind, body and environment, and can be caused by:

  • stress- both long term and short term
  • genetics and other biological factors
  • low self esteem and negative cognitive patterns
  • drug and alcohol use
  • social factors including marital problems, financial issues, violence and isolation

To get a mental health assessment or test you should first see your GP. They will refer you to a qualified person within the mental health service such as a psychatrist, psychologist, social worker or occupational therapist.