10 October is World Mental Health Day and this year the World Health Organisation (WHO) asks us to focus on suicide prevention. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), between 2015 and 2017, suicide was the leading underlying cause of death in Australians aged 15 to 44. WHO report that around the world someone loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds.
In NSW, October is Mental Health Month with this year's theme being 'Share the Journey', aiming to reduce isolation and create better connections through sharing. According to the WayAhead, the charity organisation behind the Mental Health Month campaign, "feeling connected with others gives us a sense of security, support, purpose and happiness."
The WayAhead offers the following suggestions for how we can better connect with others and 'Share the Journey':
- Share a cuppa (tea or coffee) with a mate
- Tell your loved ones about both your successes and difficulties
- Reach out to people who might be withdrawing from others
- Reach out with someone to find and access services or support
- If you're overwhelmed, ask for help with the day-to-day chores or tasks
- Get involved in group activities, for example sports or book clubs
Nearly half of all Australians will experience some form of mental health issue during their lifetime, if you or someone you know needs help don't delay in reaching out, help is available. For crisis support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week phone Lifeline on
13 11 14. To find mental health support in your local area contact the Mental Health Access Line on
1800 011 511.
Alcohol and drugs, a cause or effect?
The relationship between alcohol and drug use and mental health is a complex one. In their ‘Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia’ report the AIHW and the ‘2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS)’ acknowledge that some people struggling with mental health problems may turn to alcohol and drug use for short term relief. Conversely, mental health illness can be triggered or arise from alcohol or drug use.
Just like physical health, your mental health and wellbeing can have a huge impact on all aspects of life. If you notice that your alcohol or drug use is negatively effecting your mood and impacting on your ability to work, study, maintain relationships, manage finances and or causing injury to you and others, it may be time to reach out for help.
There are a range of treatment options available to support people who want to change their alcohol and other drug use. Many of those options include counselling to address the underlying causes of the dependence or high risk substance use. For immediate support on alcohol and other drug issues, you can give an Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) counsellor a call on
1800 250 015, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For more information on the types of treatments available for people with alcohol and other drug dependence read 'In focus: Alcohol and other drug treatment and support'.
Experiencing stigma or discrimination can also impact your mental health and be a debilitating barrier to seeking help. To combat feelings of self-doubt, isolation or setbacks, try talking to someone you trust, joining a support group or calling the following helplines for immediate help:
ADIS provides 24/7 free and confidential advice and counselling on alcohol and drug use. Call 1800 250 015 or visit
ADIS for further information.
Lifeline provides 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services. Call
13 11 14 or visit
Suicide Call Back Service is a national 24/7 helpline that provides free professional phone and online counselling. Call
1300 659 467 or visit
Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, provides mental health services to people aged 12 to 25 years old. For further information visit
For free and confidential advice 24/7 call Family Drug Support on
1300 368 186 or Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. Counsellors are available to provide information, referrals, crisis counselling and support. Or start a
Web Chat with an ADIS counsellor online Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 5pm. ADIS can also provide up-to-date information about service availability in your area during the COVID-19 pandemic.