26 June, 2020

Mental Illness – It affects us all

Feeling overwhelmed, as though it’s all too much? Feeling down, nervous and struggling to get out of bed in the morning? Constantly doubting yourself or worrying?

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, affecting almost half of Australians over a lifetime, and every Australian will know someone affected by mental health issues. Unfortunately less than half seek help, and often help is sought too late.  The impact of mental illness can be devastating to a person’s cognitive, emotional, social and occupational functioning. It can cause significant distress and disability, leading to isolation and disadvantage. Furthermore, mental illness is associated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease, cancers and a reduced life expectancy of up to 16 years in men and 12 years in women, particularly when the illness is compounded by smoking alcohol and drug abuse.

Fortunately discussing mental illness is no longer taboo, and community stigma is for the most part a thing of the past. The sooner professional help is sought, the quicker the recovery and the lesser the impact on the person, their families, and their lives.

In seeking help, GPs can assist in assessing symptoms, rule out potential underlying physical causes for these symptoms, provide information to the patient and their family, engage in counselling, select the most appropriate medication if indicated, and arrange specialist psychological or psychiatric referral where required.

Our GP’s regularly counsel patients with:

  • Relationship or family problems
  • Bereavement
  • Depression
  • General anxiety and panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Chronic pain and chronic fatigue
  • Substance issues e.g. alcohol abuse
  • Chronic or terminal disease
  • Acute situational distress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Various government funded initiatives have been put in place to improve access to quality care for all Australians, providing reimbursement for counselling services through a mental health plan. Your GP can complete the necessary assessment required to access this Medicare funding.  At Airlie Women’s Clinic, all of our female GPs have undertaken specialised mental health skills training to support and provide the best outcomes for our patients suffering with mental illness.

With prompt treatment and the right care, the impact of mental illness can be significantly reduced, helping patients and their families to best manage their mental illness and support them towards recovery.