World Mental Health Day

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Thursday 10th October is Mental Health Day.

Did you know that one in 5 Australians suffer from a mental health condition? The most commonly diagnosed conditions include depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, though the three very commonly occur together and relate to each other. Poor mental health reduces quality of life, social engagement, and is correlated with poorer overall health status and life expectancy. Every day in Australia 6 people die from suicide, and another 30 people attempt to take their life. Unfortunately suicide is the leading cause of death from age 25-44 in Australia. It is estimated that over half of people with mental health disorders do not access appropriate treatment. Unfortunately poor mental health and pain are also closely related: up to 40% of people with a diagnosed mental health condition also suffer chronic pain.

However, good mental health is not just about an absence of illness. The World Health Organisation defines mental health 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.” Here at Active Physiotherapy our vision is to help our clients and their families live their best lives, so it makes sense that we care a lot about helping to promote better mental health as well as physical health! We take a holistic approach to assessment and where needed, provide clients with appropriate recommendations and referrals to GP and other external supports.

Physical activity is often recommended as one management strategy for better mental health, though if you have an injury or medical condition it can be difficult to know where to start. Physiotherapists can help get you on the right track by providing an assessment, diagnosis of musculoskeletal problems (where required), and prescription of an individualised exercise program. Physiotherapists are first contact practitioners and do not require a doctor’s referral for an appointment (except in certain circumstances, for example, if your care is related to a work cover claim). For people with chronic pain, a holistic approach is important, and physiotherapists can play an important role alongside your GP, psychologist/counsellor, and other health practitioners.

If you feel that you could use some additional support for your mental health, you should make an appointment to speak to your GP. There is also free 24 hour support available at BeyondBlue (www.beyondblue.com.au) and Lifeline (www.lifeline.org.au - 13 11 14).

Cristy Houghton