Australia has a cost of living crisis. Here are two areas where it doesn’t have to exist

White and grey calculator withv '2023' on the screen
Image: Zerbor, iStock

Since the COVID pandemic and the Ukraine – Russia war, the world has gone through a cost of living crisis.

Australia is no exception.

Most people are worried about hikes in prices of electricity, fuel, food, etc. Last year, people around the world worried about Christmas spending. Adults even opted to go without gifts.

We’re more than half way into 2023, and cost of living is still a major issue.

Aside from utilities and food, Australians have other costs to worry about: HECS-HELP debt and mental health services.

Graduates find ot impossible to pay off university fees

I’ve written about struggles of university students in Australia. Parents who go to university find workplacement a hurdle that prevents them completing their degrees.

In May, Patrick Wright reported in ABC Everyday that students can’t beat inflation and pay their debt. Inflation has caused HECS-HELP fees to go up 7.1%. Last year, the inflation rate was 3.9%.

Vetenarian, Monica (no last name was printed), had A$80,000 HECS-HELP debt outstanding.

From the 1 June, Monica’s debt rose to over A$85,700.

Think about that. Vetinary students could face a HECS-HELP that can equal or exceed a house deposit!

Pf course, there are graduates that have managed to pay off their HECS-HELP debt. But it’s clear many are still struggling.

Australia’s mental health crisis continues

Silhouette of woman sitting in despair
Image: simpson33, iStock

I am so passionate about people being to access the mental health care they need.

Last year, I was furious at Labor Government’s lack of action when the Australian Psychology Society (APS) was calling for better and affordable access to services. This was after Labor reduced Better Access subsidised therapy sessions from twenty a year back to ten.

Therapy has become so expensive that people have had to choose between therapy and rent. Even psychologists have struggled to afford therapy.

The Australian Association of Psychologists has bern pleading to the Health Minister, Mark Butler again. They are calling for struggling parents with perinatal depression to be granted up to forty psychology sessions a year.

Rachel Lear told ABC about her struggles after the birth of her son, Charlie:

It was sheer exhaustion and tears I felt every day, trying to get my son to sleep at night, but when he was finally sleeping through, I couldn’t switch off or sleep.

In describing her declining mental health, Ms Lear recalled:

It was to the point that I was not wanting to go out… but I also felt so trapped being in my own house, and nagging thoughts were creeping up in my chest.

At the point of the ABC article, Lear only had two subsidised therapy sessions left for the year.

The Labor Government promised an extra A$26million into building more perinatal mental health services over the next four years.

This is weak. What good is more perinatal mental health services if people can’t afford them? Just lift the ten session cap!

Debt has become so normalised. The Labor Government hasn’t done nearly enough to offer relief. Surely fixing the Better Access Scheme and making university more affordable (if not free) would be a good start.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Rent or therapy: the choice Australians shouldn’t have to make

Human hands unraveling red threads on human head, representing the human brain
Image: Ildar Abulkhanov, iStock

This is horrible.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, provisional psychologist, Emily Radford has clients that have to choose between paying for therapy or paying rent. Radford is a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider. However, they have clients that pay out of pocket.

Radford offers same services to both sets of clients:

Radford’s rate is A$156.00 a session. Provisional psychologists aren’t covered under Medicare. Meaning, clients have to pay full fee unless they have private insurance.

Psychologists push for reform

Cropped shot of psychologist with a long sleeved blue shirt taking notes and talking to client
Image: PeopleImages, iStock

Psychologists are pushing for reform. Two psychological bodies are pushing the Labor Government to allow provisional psychologists to be covered under Medicare. This will increase the workforce by 8,000.

However, many argue that this will further burden the Medicare system. Instead, the Government should invest in higher education pathways and incentives for students to work in regional areas.

Some commenters claimed that covering provisional psychologists under Medicare is a bad idea. As someone who isn’t in the mental health field, I found some of these comments to the SMH article insightful.

One wrote:

I am a clinical psychologist and supervisor of trainees (provisional psychologists). The vast majority of trainees are not ready to provide services to the standard required by Medicare. They also require very close supervision and we currently have a shortage of supervisors.

BD, comment to SMH, 17 April 2023

One comment suggested a change to psychology training requirements.

I’m in the profession and the idea of Medicare subsidising trainees is a big mistake. “The government would be better off putting more money into the training system to enhance the workforce” – totally agree with that. Also, the professional body itself makes it very difficult for people who have studied for years to become an actual Psychologist – generalist undergraduate degrees, minimum masters that are impossible to get into or alternative pathways that have insanely complex requirements, and then the more recent cash cow hurdle of to do an [sic] paper exam to enter into the profession.

AP from Melb, comment to SMH, 19 April 2023

What Labor plans to do

Stupidly, the Labor cut Medicare Better Access sessions from twenty to 10 last year.

Federal Health Minister, Butler, says he wants mental health care to be more accessible. However, Labor have no policy to reform it.

What can be done?

Before working on this post, my response was simple — take a leaf out of UK’s book. Mental health services should be fully covered Medicare. (Mental health under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been a disaster).

However, I realise this view is over idealistic. It looks like the training process for potential psychologists needs an overhaul. To be honest, it seems like a nightmare.

Red tape needs be cut in training psychologists. It shouldn’t be “impossible” to do a Masters or alternative pathway. Then maybe -— just maybe — psychologists might be more accessible. And, who knows, they may become properly covered under Medicare.

What do you think? How can mental health services improve? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Opinion/Commentary

A new Amy Winehouse biopic causes controversy before its release. Should people see it?

In the first decade of the 2000s, British singer, Amy Winehouse took the world by storm.

However, her life was a cry for help. The world could see she was in a world of pain.

And, people will have the option to see it all over again.

Black and white image of Amy Winehouse in 'Back to Black' music film clip
Amy Winehouse took the world by storm with hits such as ‘Rehab’ and ‘Back to Black

A biopic based on the late British singer hasn’t been released yet. It’s already controversial. 50 Shades of Grey’s Sam Taylor – Johnson.

The biopic, Back to Black shows the late singer’s rise to fame. There’s photos taken of Marisa Abela as Winehouse and Jack O’Connell as her ex – husband. It shows Winehouse’s final years.

Amy Winehouse’s father, Mitch supports the film, despite slamming a documentary on his daughter’s life in 2015.

Is it exploitation?

Not everyone is looking forward to the film’s release. Yaz told ABC Everyday:

It’s only been twelve years since Amy died. For many fans, it still feels too raw. Hollywood has been trying to make a movie about Amy happen since 2011 — that’s how long it’s taken to get it off the ground. A few projects were floated over the years., but none have managed to get anywhere.

As told to Rachel Rasker and Yasmin Jeffery, ABC Everyday, posted 9 February, 9, 2023

Will this film be exploitative. Yaz thinks it might be:

Why would we now need a dramatised version of her already very well documented — and exploited — pain?

Mental health trauma porn: Winehouse isn’t the only victim

I’m not going to speculate Amy Winehouse’s mental diagnosis. If you look at Google or YouTube, you’ll find heaps of theories on it.

It’s clear that Winehouse was a very unwell woman. Her life was unravelling in front of the world’s eyes.

Unfortunately, she isn’t the only celebrity who’s mental health has unravelled while the world looked on. Actress Marilyn Monroe is another example I can think of.

Marilyn Monroe (real name Norma Jeane Mortenson), had a history of trauma and mental illness before her tragic death in 1962, just aged thirty – six. She was exploited and her world crumbled before everyone’s eyes.

Marilyn Monroe image on YouTube. 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' and 'Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend' titles are on the screen in white letters

In 1973, rock star, Elton John released Candle in the Wind. The Elton John/ Bernie Taupin track was written in honour of Monroe. The lyrics make it clear that Monroe was exploited, even after her passing:

Even when you died

Oh, the press still hounded you

All the papers had to say

Was that Marilyn was found in the nude

Candle in the Wind, E. John, B. Taupin, released 1973

Both Marilyn Monroe and Amy Winehouse were exploited. Their cries of help were ignored. People watched the ‘spectacle’ of their lives unravelling. However, I think things have positively changed since Monroe’s death.

People are willing to ask themselves the moralityvof tehashing lives of people who have suffered and died. That can on,y be a good thing.

If the Winehouse biopic is ever aired in Australia, I don’tvthink I’ll be seeing it. I do get people’s reservations. Let Amy rest in peace.

If you’re in Australia and are struggling, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a webchat).

If you are in danger, call 000 (or your country’s emergency number.

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Opinion/Commentary

People with mental illnesses face employment discrimination

Woman's hands unravelling tangled red threads in a white head to symbolise the brain and psychological problems
Image: Ildar Abulkhanov, iStock

In New South Wales, people with disabilities are (supposedly) protected under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. Employers are forbidden to explicitly deny a candidate’s application due to disability.

Despite this, people with disabilities face barriers to employment. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), people with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as people without disabilities (10% vs 4.6%)

People with mental illnesses struggle to find work

It’s not just people with physical or neurological developmental disorders that face an uphill battle. According to Lauren Ahwan in the Herald Sun, people with mental illnesses face barriers to employment.

People with mental illnesses, including major depressive disorder, anxiety and post – traumatic stress disorder are twice as likely to be unemployed than the general population.

During the pandemic, there was an increased awareness of mental illnesses, especially depression. However, according to Australian College of Applied Professions senior lecturer, Timothy Hsi:

Mental illness is still seen as a weakness.

Most people are trying to be very optimistic and accepting, but in the back of minds of employers, they still think ‘Is this mental health condition going to affect (an employee’s ability to work)?

Timothy Tsi to Herald Sun,

Tsi argues that people with mental conditions can be just as productive as anyone else.

Employers could be making their candidate pool small

Woman employer smiling while interviewing a man while holding his job application
Image: SDI Productions, iStock

Every now and then, you hear employers who are crying out for more workers. Vacancies aren’t being filled.

Yet, they are making their candidate pool smaller. Last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported:

  • More than 40% (43.7%) of Australians aged 16 to 85 have experienced a mental illness in their lifetime
  • More than one in five (21.4%) had a 12-month mental illness
  • Anxiety disorders were the most common
  • Almost two fifths (39.6%) of 16 to 24 had a 12 – month mental disorder.

Few things: these statistics only reflect people who admit they have a condition. The ABS data can’t include those who aren’t diagnosed or are in denial.

These statistics don’t predict the future. Anyone’s mental health can go south at any point. In 2019, journalistand author, Allastair Campbell made an eye – opening point:

We use these figures ‘1 in 4 will be mentally ill at some point in their lives’. 1 in 1 of us has got mental health and it’s never perfect

Allastair Campbell on Q and A, 22 July 2019

How to find an employer if you have a mental illness

If you do suffer a mental illness and are looking for work, Hsi advises:

  • Choose an employer who is supportive of people with mental illnesses
  • Present yourself at your best. It may be a good idea to practice relaxation techniques to avoid stumbling in interviews
  • If you need to, appoint a friend or support person nearby or to be in the room with you.

People are assets, not liabilities

In Australia, employers are expected to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate for people with disablities. I think we should change this mentality.

Employers should consider what candidates with disabilities and/ or mental illnesses can add to their company. I think we emphasise too much on what employers need to do to accommodate people. This probably employers hesitant.

So what can people with mental illnesses/ disabilities add to a workplace?

  • People with mental illnesses can be very empathetic. This is great for the employer, colleagues and customers/ clients
  • People with mental illnesses are very resilient. For example, according to Mimdful Meggie, people who have been treated for obsessive compulsive disorder can be more resilient and face adversity head-on

When we talk about employment and people with mental illnesses, strength, not liabilities should be the focus. Imagine a workplace that fosters more empathy and resilience. If that doesn’t make a better business, I don’t know what does.

What do you think? What can be done to decrease employment discrimination against people with disabilities or mental illnesses? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Life

Can we make 2023 a more relaxing year?

Image: Mehmet Hilmi Marcin, iStock

2023 is fast approaching.

This is the time of year where people make resolutions; eat healthy, get fit, etc, etc. How about we… relax? Focus on overall wellbeing?

The last few years have been rough to say the least

Covid threw the world a massive curveball. In Australia, we were in and out of lockdown. People were out of work. Socialising was put on hold.

People were (and still are) worried about children. They were often isolated. Their education was suffering. Earlier this year, primary school teachers encouraged children to play card games to regain their social skills.

2020, 2021 and 2022 have been a rollercoaster. A mess. Yet, people have been expected to bounce back. Back to work. Back to socialising. Back to where we were before.

But have we been able to go back to normal? No. Not healthily anyway.

There’s no Christmas spirit

It’s less than two weeks until Christmas. And nobody is in the mood. The atmosphere is underwhelming. Why?

A woman on Facebook (who I’m not friends with), posted an interesting piece earlier this month.

Quoting psychologist Naomi Holdt, she wrote that no one entered 2022 on a “full tank”.

People entered 2022 tired, traumatised and… lost. We were expected to just bounce back. But we weren’t given time to process. Process grief, trauma and fear.

She also points out that many people are probably using busyness as a mask; to mask the pain and fear, as well as “catch up” on all aspects of life.

Meanwhile, people around the world are having a hard time. They just can’t bounce back. Some people are still battling with their mind.

Financial stress is hitting people worldwide

A major source of stress for people worldwide is cost of living. Earlier this month, I wrote that many people in Australia, US and the UK have been forced to make steep sacrifices over Christmas, including going without gifts.

Inflation is only getting worse. And it’s predicted they’ll only get worse in 2023.

I know, it’s a lot of doom and gloom. It’s so uncertain. So what can we do?

Tips to for mental wellness in 2023

Black man with head tilted back slightly and eyes closed, doing breathing exercises
Image: electravk, iStock

Eat healthily and exercise regularly. Practice relaxation and meditation techniques. This is all stuff we all have heard a hundred times before. Maybe in 2023, we can start practicing it.

Tipstorelax.com shares these tips to maintain mental wellness in 2023:

  • Eat healthily and exercise regularly. Practice relaxation techniques, including meditation.
  • Simplify your life. Evaluate your schedules and don’t be afraid to to cut back. Likewise, don’t be afraid to get rid of any posessions that no longer serve you. Learn to delegate tasks. You don’t have to do everything on your own!
  • Practice gratitude daily
  • Identify your purpose. Find your passion and joy.
  • Keep in contact with friends and family
  • Accept reality
  • Avoid perfectionism (I have to keep reminding myself of this one!)
  • Be playful
  • Maintain your environment. Keep it clean from clutter and dirt.

Make 2023 the year of mental health

On the 1st of January 2023, I think we should just breathe. Just relax. We should prioritise mental health in 2023.

Personally, my aim is to get work, at least part – time. It’s going to be a long road, I still want to maintain my mental health in the meantime. With the love and support from those around me, I think I’ll be able to do that.

I hope the same for anyone who reads this. Make 2023 the year to breathe, to reach out and to honour your needs. Get help if you need it.

What are your goals or hopes for 2023? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Treatment guidelines for ADHD have been revealed

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Earlier this year, the ADHD Professional Association came under fire for recommending ADHD medication under six as a first resort.

This went against the Therepeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA warned against using medication as a first resort for children under six.

Well, treatment guidelines for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have come out.

ADHD treatment guidelines are implemented

According to the ABC, the first official guidelines for treating ADHD have been approved.

It’s hoped that these guidelines will help improve the lives of approximately 1 million Australians that live with the condition. It also offers a uniform treatment for those who have ADHD.

So, what are the guidelines? Was AADPA’s initial controversial proposal approved?

Guidelines

According to the guidelines, diagnosis and treatment are extensive and conplex. Both psychological and medicinal treatments are discussed.

Here are some of the recommendations:

  • Clinicians (General Practitioners or psychiatrists) conduct a “comprehensive assessment” to determine ADHD diagnosis
  • If the patient has a cardiac condition, GP must contact the patient’s cardiologist for an opinion on treatment
  • The ADHD symptoms must cause “significant impairment” before medication is prescribed
  • If close monitoring is required, clinicians are advised to offer short – acting stimulants (i.e. immediate release methylphenidate or dexamfetamine)

Medications that clinicians canQQ prescribe include:

If a certain medication isn’t working, clinicians are advised to try out other medications. If all else fails, psychological interventions are advised.

People with ADHD should have access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Trigger warning: mental illness and suicide

Another recommendation suggests that people diagnosed with ADHD should have access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Since we’re talking about severe ADHD, in theory, I agree. However, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has badly let people with mental illnesses down.

There have been a number of reports of people with mental illnesses waiting too long to have their NDIS plans (funding) to be approved.

Unfortunately, the result has been tragic. There have been reports of people taking their own lives while waiting for plans to be approved.

Again, people with psychosocial disabilities —including ADHD — should be supported. But the NDIS needs to be fixed so people with mental illnesses can be aporoved.

What else can be done? Make mental health free under Medicare

First, for non – Australians. Medicare is meant to make medical care in public doctors/ public hospitals more affordable. If you go to a GP, for example, you are bulk billed.

Australians with a Medicare card can go in a doctor’s office or public hospital and not get slugged with a multi – thousand dollar bill.

However, mental health care isn’t properly covered. Under the Better Access Scheme, only ten therapy sessions a year are given half price annually. This includes people who are diagnosed with serious mental illnesses.

I think this should change. I believe if you are diagnosed with a serious mental illness, all therapy should be government funded and completely free for patients. I know sone people won’t agree, but it’s how I feel.

Question to readers: I looked up medications I listed while writing this post. Lamotragine is an anti – seizure medication. Aripiprazole is an antipsychotic. How are these supposed to help with ADHD?

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Controversial guidelines suggest medicating children under six for ADHD

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New treatment recommendations for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is causing an uproar.

The 2012 Current Clinical Practice advises against using medication as a first resort for very young children.

The guidelines read:

Psychological, environmental and family interventions should, if possible, be trialled and evaluated before starting any medication treatment. If all of these other interventions have not been effective then stimulants might be considered.

Currently, the Therepeutic Goods Administration (TGA) does not recommend ADHD medication for children under six.

However, this could change. There is a push for medication to be the first port of call rather than last resort.

Financial interests

The Australian ADHD Professionals Association (AADPA) admitted on their website that members have financial interests in ADHD medications.

However, Professor and AADPA President, Mark Bellgrove insisted:

…we’re entirely confident that we have taken the necessary steps to minimise any impact of conflicts.

Professor Bellgrove claimed that all researchers were:

…exonerated and cleared of any misconduct regarding their declarations about links to pharma.

Professor Bellgrove may be right. All members of the AADPA may have followed all their laws and guidelines. But the question of whether children under six should be given ADHD medication still remains.

The heartbreaking effects of ADHD

ADHD can be a devastating condition for the sufferer and people closest to them. According to WebMD, untreated ADHD can have a wide range of effects in both children and adults. These can include:

  • Impulsivity can make school and work harder
  • Children may not be able to retain information and fall behind in class
  • Difficulty relating to others; may have issues with sharing, taking turns and reacting appropriately in certain situations
  • Difficulty making friends (and dating in adolescence)
  • May suffer low self – esteem
  • impulsivity may result in frequent injuries
  • Conflicts with parents
  • Risky behaviours such as: alcohol and drug abuse, smoking and risky sexual activity
  • Eating disorders (especially in girls)
  • Depression
  • Being involved in car accidents
  • Work issues such as: being on time and trouble completing tasks

ADHD is no joke. It’s clear that it needs to be taken seriously.

My take: ADHD should be treated. But get financial interests out of it

Let me say from the outset: ADHD is real. I don’t doubt that it is debilitating for many sufferers. However, the push from AADPA reinforces ideas that many critics of ADHD already have.

Psychiatry has been bastardised by the pharmaceutical industry. Real illnesses, like ADHD and depression are often given Band – Aid solutions, rather than lasting change.

It’s easy to see why.

In 2019- 2020, the Australian Government subsidised A$566million for mental health prescriptions. Under Medicare, Australians still pay a small amount for medication (approximately A$8 to A$60). So pharmaceutical companies are making bank.

I have not been able to find the amount the Australian Government or consumers spend on medications like Ritalin alone. That’s suss.

I’m not saying medication is never the answer for mental illnesses. But the pharmaceutical industry need to forget their financial interests and focus on helping people who are genuinely suffering. And offer real, long lasting solutions.

Do you think children under the age of six should be prescribed ADHD medications? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Categories
Life

There’s conflicting advice on sleep. So what’s true?

Young woman sleeping on a bed on her back
Image: iStock

Sleep is vital for health. Everyone needs adequate, quality sleep. According to Healthline, effects from a lack of quality sleep can include:

  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Various mental health problems (irritability, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts)
  • Weakened immune system, which can affect a person’s ability to ward off illnesses
  • Increased risk of chronic conditions, such as diabetes mellitus and heart disease
  • A vulnerable respiratory system. This leaves a person more susceptible to the flu and common colds
  • Weight gain and obesity

Is going to bed earlier healthier?

Although effects of a lack of sleep seem clear cut, the ‘right time’ is not.

Last week, The Australian published an article suggesting that going to bed earlier can have health benefits. The ideal bedtime is between 10 to 10.59 pm.

Going to bed at midnight or later may increase a person’s risk of heart disease by 25%.

According to lecturer, Dr. David Plans, the reason seems to be our 24-hour body clock.

Our study indicates that the optimum to go to sleep is at a specific point in the body’s 24-hour cycle and deviation may be detrimental to health.

Dr. Plans said that the riskiest time to go to bed is after midnight, as it decreased the body’s likelihood of seeing morning light.

Independent researcher, Dr. Neill Stanley blamed later bedtimes on modern lifestyle.

Like Dr. Plans, Dr. Stanley also advocates for people going to bed at a regular and earlier time. It’s suggested that going to bed even ten minutes earlier can increase health.

According to a large study by researchers at the University of Colorado going to bed an hour earlier may decrease a person’s risk of depression by 23%. This finding was published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal.

There is a physical affect of going to bed earlier. A late night may result a rise in blood pressure that carries on to the next day.

So, it seems quite clear cut. Going to be earlier and at a regular time increases both physical and mental health. Well, maybe… but maybe not.

Are bedtime needs determined by biology?

A dark-skinned sleeping baby
Image: iStock

A 2019 article from the ABC website drew different conclusions.

Health psychologist from Sleep Health Foundation, Moira Junge claimed that the ideal bedtime was a ‘myth’.

Dr. Junge said:

It’s a vague science to prescribe a bedtime for people.

Glorica Micic from the Adelaide Institute of Sleep Health at the Flinders University agreed.

She suggested that if people didn’t have commitments and could go to bed when tired, times will vary from person to person.

However, most people were believed to fall into a pattern. Most people fell asleep between 9 pm and midnight and wake up at 6 – 7 am.

Dr. Junge and Dr Micic advised to go to bed when you’re tired. They advised against going to bed earlier.

It’s possible to adjust a person’s sleeping and waking times slightly, often with professional help.

 

So, what’s the truth? Did Dr. Stanley and Dr. Plans debunk Dr. Junge and Dr. Micic? It’s always possible.

Personally, I can kind of see both arguments. However, I’m more willing to go with Dr. Junge and Dr. Micic. I think ideal bedtimes vary from person to person.

What do you think? Are you a night owl or early bird? Do you think one is better? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Mental health crisis: ED patients in mental distress say they won’t go back

Emergency Department sign
Image: iStock

 

TW: suicidal ideation, mental health distress. If these issues are triggering for you, please proceed with care. Seek help if you need it.

A mental health not – for – profit conducted a study that had worrying results.

The Black Dog Institute surveyed 911 participants in NSW and the ACT. Almost half of respondents who experienced suicidal distress said they would refuse to return to emergency departments or seek out further treatment.

43.5% of respondents said they wouldn’t seek out help from ED staff if they experienced suicidal distress.

Reasons given included: long delays, incomplete assessments and a lack of resources.

Associate Professor for Black Dog Institute, Fiona Shand outlined problems faced by many professionals and patients:

They know what the problems are, and they want to do more, but the processes and lack of resourcing don’t allow them to spend adequate time with patients or work in the way they would like.

 

A sign of a broken system

A participant from ACT opened up about her harrowing experience. She claimed that she went to the ED for suicidal thoughts in 2019. It exacerbated her anxiety.

Staff fast – tracked her, only to abandon her for hours. She said the experience left her “agitated”. The isolation could’ve been dangerous. When left on her own, she claimed she could leave the facility with no detection, or self – harm.

If this isn’t a sign of a broken system, I don’t know what is. Something needs to change. And it needs to change now.

People with serious mental health issues are being let down

Depressed woman sitting down distressed
Image: iStock

I’ve written before about the need to fix Australia’s mental health system.

I firmly believe that Medicare should cover mental health completely.

For patients who are diagnosed with a severe mental illness, psychology therapies should be free. An example of a country that does this is the UK.

The Government needs to expand Medicare

Why the hell are people with serious mental health issues going to ED? Because people can’t afford psychology appointments?

Will lifting the cap on Medicare reduce the need for ED admissions? Maybe.

However, if suicidal people do appear in ED, doctors and nurses need to know how treat them.

Effects of good mental health

There are reasons why I keep banging on about this. Good mental health means a better society.

If we improved mental health in our society we will improve:

  • Employment prospects: According to Urban Design Mental Health, poor mental health damages a person’s employment prospects. People with mental illnesses are 10 – 15 per cent more likely to be unemployed.
  • Family: When a person has a severe mental illness, family members are most likely to be carers. This can affect the carer’s employment, health, etc.
  • Homelessness: Another issue that people pay lip service to. 30 – 35% of homeless people are seriously mentally ill.

Too many people are literally dying because of poor mental health. More people are suffering in silence or are getting inadequate care. Enough is enough.

If you’re Australian, feel free to sign this petition for mental health to be properly funded under Medicare. 

 

 

 

Instagram linked to poor mental health in young people

Instagram app on device
Image: iStock

The Wall Street Journal uncovered troubling findings on the impact Instagram has on teens.

Instagram’s parent company Facebook Inc conducted the research.

One slide from Facebook’s internal message board last year claimed:

Thirty-two percent of teen girls said when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.

Another slide noted:

Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves

Facebook Inc has conducted the research over three years. The consistent findings are worrying.

While not a cause, Instagram has shown to exacerbate depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal ideation. 13% British and 6% of American teens blamed Instagram for their suicidal ideation.

Facebook CEO and Head downplay the findings

Not surprisingly, Facebook Inc has downplayed worrying findings.

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg argued:

The research that we’ve seen is that social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits.

Likewise, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri has also minimised the findings, claiming size of the issue was “quite small”.

Instagram banks on young people

Young people are abandoning Facebook. They have been for almost a decade. However, the number of young people using Instagram has exploded.

People aged twenty-two and under make up 40% of Instagram’s users. On average, US teens spend 50% more time on Instagram than Facebook.

That’s why Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s Head Adam Mosseri has downplayed the alarming research. At a Congressional Hearing in March this year, Zuckerberg argued:

The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have mental-health benefits

Mosseri downplayed the issues. He said the extent of the problem was “quite small”.

Of course, Mosseri and Zuckerberg will want to minimise links between Facebook, Instagram and youth mental health. Young people on Instagram have become their cash cow.

Instagram and the exploitation of underage children

Canadian Youtuber and podcaster, Josh Barbour is vocal against influencers who exploit children. His campaign was triggered by Myka and James Stauffer’s adoption and ‘rehoming’ of a Chinese child. (I’m not going to use the name the Stauffers gave him).

The case exploded Barbour’s channel, The Dad Challenge Podcast. Since then, Barbour has exposed a whole underbelly of child exploitation on social media.

Piper Rockelle and Liliana K

Two revolting instances of children being exploited on Instagram are Liliana Ketchman (aka Liliana K) and Piper Rockelle.

 

I remember when I saw his video on Ketchman, her account was mass reported. Liliana was underage (twelve, I think). Unfortunately, Instagram refused to take the account down. Reason? Her ‘mother’ (I use that term loosely) ran the account.

I was infuriated. I seriously thought about deleting my Instagram accounts.

A few months later, Barbour exposed the exploitation of Piper Rockelle. Unlike Liliana K, Rockelle was over the age limit (she was fourteen, I think).

The images are beyond revolting.

For me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I deleted both my Instagram accounts. Please note,  I don’t begrudge those who still have an Instagram account.

However, if people delete their accounts in revolt, I’m all for it. People should hold Facebook Inc accountable.

Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are potentially putting children in danger. The full impact on child influencer culture is yet to be seen.

 

I’ll be fair to Mark Zuckerberg for a second. Do I believe that he  deliberately created Instagram to exploit children? No. But he is responsible. And Facebook Inc is failing a whole generation.

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