Tune in today to Triple M in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane and you’ll hear nothing but music. It’s Triple M’s ‘NO Talk Day’, encouraging men and women to open up about their mental health to loved ones.
The initiative highlights the fact that we, as Australians, aren’t very good at talking about our mental health. This is especially true for men, who are notoriously far less likely than women to seek help.
Why? Because of the long-standing social stigma, stereotyping and ‘invisibleness’ of mental health conditions.
Triple M’s campaign is addressing the matter by not talking about it.
Sound a little contradictory? We thought so too.
A few questions for you, Triple M:
- Isn’t the real issue here that mental health isn’t discussed enough?
- If so, why are we greeting the issue with more silence?
- Shouldn’t we instead be dedicating more time to talking about it publicly, not less?
While we’re all for fighting against the stigma of mental health, we believe it should be done with public conversation – not radio silence.
So today, we’re filling the silence by shining a light on some of the most alarming mental health statistics to come out of Australia in recent times.
Beyond Blue tells us that 65,000 Australians will attempt to take their own lives this year alone. Of the eight people who die each day, six will be men (ABS, 2017).
In fact, the number of men who die by suicide in Australia is nearly three times the number who die in road accidents (BITRE, 2016). Yet we still see far more resources poured into road safety in Australia than we do mental illness (although the landscape is admittedly changing).
Young people are also highly susceptible to mental health conditions, with over 75 percent of mental illnesses occurring before the age of 25, and one in seven youths aged four to 17 experiencing a form of mental illness (Kessler, 2005).
The prevalence of mental health conditions in carers is higher again. Because carers spend much of their time looking after someone else, they quite often fail to address their own physical and mental wellbeing.
We live in a privileged country. And while our quality of life is arguably the best it’s ever been, our mental health is not.
Little Dreamers champions the organisations who are making major waves in the mental health sector in Australia and overseas. Their work is an invaluable asset to our community and to millions of lives.
Although we’re acknowledging mental illness more than ever before, there’s far more that public platforms such as Triple M can and should be doing.
For one, let’s talk about it. Let’s give voice to the many experts and the many individuals with personal experiences of mental illness. Let’s demonstrate how to start a discussion. Let’s teach more people where to seek help. Let’s play more of a part in eliminating stigma and stereotypes associated with mental illness by talking it through and normalising the topic.
This is something that silence will never do.
But then again, maybe Triple M’s ‘NO Talk’ agenda is working.
We know exactly what we’ll be doing today: talking about it.