It’s Time to Check-in Australia – Let’s do it together…
Today marks the start of Mental Health Week in Australia. There are some amazing initiatives, opportunities to connect, and concrete ways to increase awareness to the issue of mental health. We are better at talking about it, there is no doubt. Yet statistically, we are doing little to change it with most of us continuing to avoid paying attention to our own or others’ mental health until we have no choice.
Almost every mood or mental health issue impacting on Australians has a pretty significant lead-in time where we can make some conscious changes to prevent or reduce psychological distress. If we could measure mental health with a clear and holistic dashboard, we would be better equipped to change it.
We think it is time we did just that.
Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-in launches today, October 10. But as its creator, it has changed me already. Since we decided to do something concrete to make it easier for people to pay attention to their mental health, and give them a personalised program without leaving home, I’ve changed.
It started when I talked with Medibio about trying to give Australians access to their technology and heart rate algorithm. We trialled Medibio’s circadian heart rhythm device and were impressed by 2 elements specifically. Firstly, it had an 83% correlation with our traditional methods and was even more sensitive to picking up stress people didn’t want to talk about. Secondly, people were interested in testing because it was objective, and physical. It lacked the stigma and confusion of our usual mental health measures. But the technology is not freely available, hasn’t been tested on the ground like this, and is not accessible to do at scale. “We’re in,” Medibio said, “how can we help?”
Approaching Ambassadors to explain the problems we were seeking to solve was humbling, as I recently wrote about (click here). These 18 relative strangers went away to “Check-in” after the Ambassador’s briefing. It was all we asked them to do – but it was special to learn that several caught up this week off their own bat to hold each other accountable to their own journey. Reminding themselves that they were talking about themselves and each other – not “the community.” What may have started out as a sense of social and professional responsibility and support, became a personal one. They checked in with each other about their progress, shared the vulnerability of their results. Some scores were elevated – reminding us that you can function well and even highly with high anxiety or low mood. But you can also run the New York marathon without shoes on and that doesn’t mean you should. “I feel like it is easier already” said one person. A person who has since encouraged many others to join us tomorrow and sign up.
As I sat down to type this the phone rang. An older gentleman in regional Australia who had just read about the Check-in. Thousands of kms apart, it felt like we were for a moment sitting on a park bench together. “My wife always said I was a worrier… She’s not here anymore…” he shared. “I think it is time I did this kind of thing”. His conversation stayed with me long after the phone call did.
For the next 4 weeks we are inviting as many Australians as possible to check-in at www.mentalhealthcheckin.com. Participating reminds us all, that mental health is everyone’s business – we can and should do better with it. We can remind everyone there is no shame in paying attention to it – starting with ourselves. Please help us by sharing this initiative and we would love to hear your experiences and thoughts as it unfolds.
Register Now: www.mentalhealthcheckin.com