These days there is a lot of talk about mental illness in our community. Ads on TV and the print media, endless online mentions, stories in the news and support from famous faces.
Beyond Blue and Mental Health week have recently received a lot of air-time of late.
Today I attended my weekly meditation class and we were discussing the stress response on the human body, more specifically how GP's deal with it.
Everyday people go to their GP and tell them they are stressed, can't sleep, aren't eating...whatever. Quite often the doctor will just diagnose depression/anxiety and send the patient away with a prescription for a magic pill. They take the medication for a bit, hopefully the stress resolves itself and they are "cured".
The statistics and costs of mental health issues on our community are both staggering...so is the ignorance.
One woman piped up in the discussion and said, and I shit you not, "I don't believe in anti-depressants." This broad and ridiculous comment stunned me. It's a bit like saying "I don't believe in anti-biotics"! Of course they aren't right for every situation, but when there is medication available to ease a person's suffering, and it sometimes doesn't get much worse than mental illness, why wouldn't you take it?
I myself am on medication, have been for quite a while, more than likely will be for the rest of my life. I don't just rely on medication though, I am learning as much as I can about my illness, reading everything I can get my hands on. I see a psychiatrist, a psychologist, I attend group therapy and am learning meditation, all to help me manage my condition.
And I think that's the key. All too often medication is prescribed in isolation or to placate someone, when in reality, stress management, education and in some cases therapy combined with appropriate medication make all the difference.