Mental Health Month 2016

October, Mental Health Month, is a timely reminder to take stock of our mental health and that of those around us.

Good mental health can be defined in the following way: “Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community” (World Health Organisation).

Unfortunately, for many Australians, maintaining good mental is difficult. According to Beyond Blue, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and in any given year, approximately 1 million Australian adults will have depression, and over 2 million will have anxiety. Even more sobering is the fact that, in Australia, around 2,500 people die by suicide each year. Sadly, the suicide rate has not declined over the years, despite ongoing community and individual efforts to support people with mental health issues. It makes you wonder, are we doing enough?

This is why it is so important for us, not only to keep having these conversations about mental health, but also, to take action and do whatever we can to support people struggling with poor mental health. Sometimes it can be difficult to recognise mental health issues within ourselves and others, as the experience and symptoms may differ from person to person. And not everyone wants to talk about what feels like a lonely, private and often dark and debilitating condition. If you can relate to some of the symptoms below (as stated on beyondblue website), and the symptoms have persisted for a few weeks, please consider talking to someone:


  • not going out anymore
  • not getting things done at work/school
  • withdrawing from close family and friends
  • relying on alcohol and sedatives
  • not doing usual enjoyable activities
  • unable to concentrate


  • overwhelmed
  • guilty
  • irritable
  • frustrated
  • lacking in confidence
  • unhappy
  • indecisive
  • disappointed
  • miserable
  • sad


  • 'I’m a failure.'
  • 'It’s my fault.'
  • 'Nothing good ever happens to me.'
  • 'I’m worthless.'
  • 'Life’s not worth living.'
  • 'People would be better off without me.'


  • tired all the time
  • sick and run-down
  • headaches and muscle pains
  • churning gut
  • sleep problems
  • loss or change of appetite
  • significant weight loss or gain.

Talking to someone can be the first step towards improved wellbeing and there are other treatments available that do work. The Diocesan Social Justice Committee will be acknowledging Mental Health Day on Monday 10 October by hosting a mental health forum. The theme for this year is “Learn and Grow” and I am proud to be one of the presenters for this event. Please come along to the Broadmeadow Parish Hall and help us to continue to talk about this extremely important issue.

To find out more and register for the event, please email Brooke Robinson, or phone 02 4979 1111.

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Tanya Russell Image
Tanya Russell

Tanya Russell is CatholicCare's Assistant Director and a registered psychologist.

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