I’ve had lots of proud weeks in my life, and this is definitely one of them. We are on the eve of launching Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-in 2017. It provides a private, proactive and personalised dashboard for the mind and the body to see how each of us are tracking. Partnering with Medibio, the world’s first objective measure of stress, we lead a new age of better measurement and positive change in mental health. The Check-in comes as the World Health Organisation announce that depression is now officially the leading cause of ill health on the planet, up 18% over the past decade.
Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-in was created to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. It aims to let people know they’re not alone, and to encourage a more proactive approach to mental health. But there’s another reason for checking in that I know better than most, and that is that up to 60% of people don’t even realise when their mental health has become an issue. As I started seeing the pictures roll in from people registering to be part of our global action on mental health I realised that I should show the same courage.
10 years ago, after a significant physical injury I suffered from depression. I had a Masters degree in Psychology and I’d published internationally. I consulted and trained thousands of people, and yet I didn’t see it for myself. I worked full time, adored being a mum, had a supportive husband and family and a dream new business. I never missed a day of work, stayed fit, and kept up all my commitments. But life was just harder than it should have been. I’d wake at 3am with a spam folder full of thoughts. A set back at work set off quiet catastrophisation in my heart and mind for days. Every day tasks felt overwhelming. Loud noises, unnoticed by others, were like finger nails down a blackboard to me. Colleagues seemed to laugh more easily than I did, and I felt isolated even when others were around.
I told myself it was just tiredness – the reality of being a working parent with small children and the side effects of pain medication. I put it down to a busy work week, a tough client or a child that hadn’t slept. The thing is, it was all true – I had every single risk factor under the sun and it happened so slowly I didn’t notice when a ‘tough week’ had become the new normal. Addressing my mental health was like unhitching a caravan that I didn’t realise I was towing around every day.
Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-in is putting the way Australia sees mental health in your hands. We are asking you to put your hand up and tell people you are checking in to make it easier for your colleagues, fellow parents at Saturday sport, neighbours and family members to do the same. If you are an employer, click the link here and join leading organisations like PwC, Broadspectrum, CBH, Wesfarmers, HBF, LMW, St John of God Healthcare, and Intelife, who share our belief that we can do better. For less than the cost of one person having a single EAP session, you will be giving 10 people reports which measure and explain depression, anxiety, stress, resilience, sleep, emotional intelligence and coping style, helping them to understand and future proof their wellbeing. In addition to the $11 billion mental health costs employers and the economy, you might just change a life.
We’ll keep you up to date over the next month, but if you want to make the smallest start, please join us by checking in for yourself, share this with others, inquire about getting your organisation involved, add your pic to our Facebook wall or share your story.