Discussion is increasing about mental health and the impact that mental illness has on families, the community, business and the economy as a whole. With good reason.
A national household survey in 2013-14 found that almost one in seven (about 575,000) children and adolescents in Australia aged four to 17 years were assessed as having mental health disorders in the previous 12 months.1
The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing estimated that one in five Australian adults had experienced a common mental disorder in the previous 12 months.1 More recently, a Minter Ellison survey showed depression and anxiety are present in 94 per cent of Australian workplaces, with 44 per cent of respondents reporting suicide or attempted suicide in their workplace over the past two years.2
Change is coming, albeit slowly. Earlier this year, NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes announced plans to arm children with tools to manage the risks of mental health. He said, “We are removing the culture of shame that has needlessly been attached to issues like mental health. By removing this stigma, we have the potential to prevent a great deal of suffering.”3
In April this year Australia’s federal, state and territory Health Ministers made a landmark decision enabling registered health professionals to seek appropriate treatment for most mental health problems without being reported to AHPRA.
The Australian workplace needs to step up too. According to national mental health commissioner Professor Ian Hickie, too many “are taking an outdated, reactive approach to their staff ’s mental health”.2 Minter Ellison’s recommendations include: proactively identifying and managing high environmental risk factors and high risk roles for mental health and adopting management styles that minimise the potential impact on staff with mental health issues.2
This issue I spoke to Marcela Slepica, Clinical Services Director, at AccessEAP, about risks to mental health in the eye care profession and what you can do to maintain your own wellbeing; minimise risks and manage mental health issues in your practice.