Breaking the stigma around suicide and mental illness

Breaking the stigma around suicide and mental illness

12 April 2021

Suicide among veterans is higher than the general population and as distressing as it is to talk about, we need to talk about it and mental health issues in order to prevent more men and women taking their lives.

As a Clinical Psychologist I know ‌that ‘talking therapies’ work. I know that people can change, grow, and thrive under the most difficult of circumstances and I know that people can recover from mental illness and lead fulfilling and purposeful lives. 

It is an undeniable fact of life that part of the human experience means we will experience emotions such as pain, suffering and grief, but we will also experience joy, love, happiness and many other emotions. Of course, when we are in emotional pain, it is hard to see any relief in sight. If we are depressed, highly anxious, suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues, we may just see doom and gloom. 

However, it’s important to remember that viewing the world through the lens of mental illness is like looking through a dirty windscreen. Your vision is blurred, you can’t see clearly, and things, people and places may look different, appear out of place or simply not there at all. 

Everything may appear too difficult, take too much effort and it may seem that there is no end in sight to what you are experiencing. Essentially, you are not seeing reality. You are seeing your own distorted view of reality and thinking that this will be your forever way of feeling. 

The good news is that things can and do get better. The great thing about life is that it is fluid. We are always changing, growing and experiencing. Nothing is permanent, nothing is static, including the way you feel right now. Things change and with change comes growth and potential. The simple act of knowing that there is hope, that life does change, and that support is available, can and does save lives. 

Numerous times I have seen the power of communication and social connection in supporting people through dark and distressing times. I know that starting the conversation, picking up the phone, making an appointment with your GP and obtaining a referral, can seem daunting, but you’re not alone in feeling this way. 

Everyone can feel hesitant at first to ask for help. That is okay. We all need help once in a while. You, me, everyone. 

I truly believe some of the most courageous people I have ever met are those that walked into my therapy room willing to talk about and seek help for their problems. 

By doing so they have taken the first step towards recovery and a better life. Not just for themselves but for all those that love and support them. 

If you are experiencing or know of someone experiencing emotional pain, please reach out. Help is always available. 

Mates4Mates provides lifesaving support services to current and ex-serving Defence members, and their families. Take the first step to getting help by calling us today on 1300 462 837.

If you are in immediate danger, please call 000. Or for 24-hour support, phone Open Arms or Lifeline

Written by Mates4Mates National Clinical Manager and Clinical Psychologist, Georgia Ash.

  • Mental health
  • Veterans

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