It's only fair to share…

We hear a lot about depression in the media – we have had many high profile sportspeople, politicians and musicians disclose their experiences with depression. and as a result many people assume that this is the most common mental illness.

Wrong… anxiety disorders are more common. About 14 per cent of us experience anxiety disorders each year, which is more than twice the rate of depressive disorders.

Often anxiety disorders are referred to as ‘stress’, which is either simply accepted or blamed on those around us from our boss, our partner, our families and even the cat! But if that stress is ongoing, long lasting and is impacting on our functioning then it is possible that it’s more than stress and perhaps an anxiety disorder and worth seeking professional treatment.

Substance Use Disorder is also a common mental illness, coming in just behind depression, and psychosis, which has a much lower prevalence rate but can be a high impact disorder when it is present.

Despite one in five adults experiencing mental illness every year, not all of these people are diagnosed or receive treatment for their illness.

Sometimes a person is not aware that what they are going through is actually a mental health problem, particularly in the early stages. Many leave doing anything about it until it has a huge impact on their functioning, or it becomes noticed by others.

By this time, the impact can be devastating in terms of how it affects a person’s life – it may be causing a loss of work or life roles, loss of opportunities, loss of relationship or loss or self-esteem and confidence.

Many people will mask the emotional distress and impact of living with mental health issues because, although our community talks far more openly these days about depression we don’t often talk about other mental illnesses and we still have high levels of discrimination and stigmatising attitudes about mental health issues in general.

Almost half of us (45%) will experience mental illness in our lifetime and will, no doubt, know someone close to us, who has. So, while you may not be experiencing mental illness at this point in time, it may have been in your past and may still be in your future. Consciously choosing strategies to minimise and manage stress, to stay positively connected with others, to find meaning and purpose in your life and to keep you on the more positive side of the mental health continuum is a great idea.