October 9, 2016 – Thoughts on mental health week and awareness

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in Australia!

Unfortunately I’m not really excited, but let me explain why.


It seems like every second day something new pops up on my Facebook feed about an awareness day for some mental illness or suicide or suicide prevention or depression or anxiety or BPD or PTSD or OCD. Awareness, awareness, awareness. We are awareness-ed out. We are so aware that we’re not even paying attention anymore. What does awareness even mean??

I’m disappointed in our government for championing awareness with breakfasts and fun runs and RUOK Days, because if it is that important to Canberra, where is the funding? I’m aware (haha get it?) that so many things need funding, but how many dead and depressed and anxious bodies can we shove under the rug before their legs start sticking out?

The biggest problem is that mental health funding depends on outcomes. Did you know that an outcome can be as small as getting out of bed? Booking an appointment for the next week even though you’re not sure you’ll be alive then? Telling the truth to your doctor because you finally feel like you can trust them? These were my outcomes. These were the biggest things for me, the things I was proud of. But these outcomes are hard to quantify on an excel spreadsheet so we cut the funding. Give us results that we can measure or get out of here.

I wish Malcolm Turnbull and Sussan Ley and the Department of Health would actually talk to people experiencing these things, I wish it doesn’t take a loved one’s death or illness before we can really see how bad this is. I wish headspace and beyondblue and Lifeline could use their money for more than keeping their heads just above the water in this ocean of drowning people. I wish people reaching out in desperation wouldn’t be turned away or hung up on or put on a huge waiting list but this is where we are.

I don’t have an answer. But if you see a sign on the road that says “BE AWARE: STEEP CLIFFS AHEAD”, you don’t keep driving in the same direction. We cannot keep driving in the same direction.

But it’s fine, don’t worry. Because at least we’re aware. Right?

(Take care my beautiful friends. I love you and I’m right here with you, always.)