Guilt about feeling miserable despite ‘living the good life’ on the Northern Beaches has proven a barrier to good mental health outcomes, explains Manly psychotherapist Rebecca Sharp.
TRIGGER WARNING: This article mentions self harm. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please call Lifeline Crisis Line 13 11 14 immediately. More resources are at addendum.
There is no better place to dust off the working week and unleash our inner health nut than along our Northern Beaches. The true peak hour of Manly is along our beaches just after sunrise – what a glowing, active, healthy lot are we! But how healthy are we in our minds? In my work as a psychotherapist in Manly and surrounds I’ve learnt a thing or two. Unfortunately, I think this outward display of good health is masking a health issue in need of immediate attention.
Mental health challenges such as anxiety, panic disorders and depression are some of the fastest growing health concerns in Australia right now. Last year, more than 2,500 men and 800 women lost their lives to suicide. Our home, with all of its outdoor space, affluence and community support, is not immune to the misery epidemic and perhaps it is because of our general good fortune the issue can be dismissed more often than it should.
The rates of depression and suicide in our region are on the rise with more than one person a day being admitted to hospital experiencing suicidal thoughts, self-harming or attempting suicide.
Those suffering are often doing so in silence with a belief that an outwardly enviable lifestyle means they’re not actually allowed to experience mental health challenges.
Recently, Mental Health at Work, a UK based mental health charity, asked me about perceptions of mental health in Australia. In countries such as the UK, they’re seeing a divide in perceptions based on age demographics.
Here in Australia, the home of mateship, we’re as good as any country in the world at supporting those in need. Any divide in perceptions appear to be less about age and more about perceived affluence with more empathy being given to those who we recognise as doing it tough.
We often see less empathy is being given to those who we believe to have it all. Just take a look at the reaction of “lift the bridge” late last year with the Northern Beaches Covid 19 outbreak. While there have been many a Covid outbreak in the last 12 months, such cries have been reserved only for the “insular peninsular.”
Breaking the stigma and supporting our community towards great mental health is a matter of education and access. Suicide and mental health disorders are preventable and in order to do so we need to take mental health as seriously as physical health.
In communities such as ours where guilt often compounds negative feelings, we need to help our neighbours to feel comfortable seeking support. Three.simple things we can do for those around us are:
- Open up the conversation around wellbeing to include mental and emotional wellbeing
- Normalise the conversation by talking openly about our own experiences
- If someone does start to open up, listen distraction free and don’t try and diagnose
Rather than diagnose, we can support others to get access to the support and resources they need. There are an abundance of great resources available along the Beaches working to increase awareness and understanding within the community. Here are some links to look into:
Crisis Support Services
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Mental Health Line – 1800 011 511
You will be able to speak with a clinician who can provide recommendations about how to manage your situation or put you in contact with an appropriate mental health team.
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
The Suicide Call Back Service provides free professional telephone and online counselling for anyone affected by suicide.
Kids Help Line – 1800 551 800
1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732
A service for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
Local Mental Health Services
Your local GP
Call your local GP who can provide advice on mental health and local services.
Northern Beaches Hospital – Mental Health – 9105 6301
Consumer-centred care with active involvement from family and carers.
Northern Beaches Community Mental Health Service – 1800 011 511
Provides specialised, comprehensive care coordination for persons 18 – 65 years of age who have a serious mental illness and people significantly affected by mental health problems.
The Seasons Program – CCNB 1300 000 125
Engages with a person in the first 12 weeks following an attempted suicide by coordinating emotional, clinical and practical support.
One Door Health Care – 9199 6143
Provides specialised mental health services, psychological and physical health services, individual support, and assistance transitioning to the NDIS.
One Door Pioneer Clubhouse – 9907 9999
Pioneer Clubhouse is a community based program, and a safe, supportive, respectful environment for people living with mental illness.
Lifeline Northern Beaches – 9949 5522
Provides counselling, financial counselling and offers a range of support groups including gambling, bereavement or caring for a suicidal person.
Family and Carer Mental Health Service – 8599 4855
Provides individual support to anyone related to, living with, or caring for a person experiencing a mental health issue.
Child & Youth Mental Health Service – Northern Beaches
Provides specialist mental health intervention to children and young people with severe and complex mental health problems and their families.
Northern Beaches Youth & Family Counselling Service 9976 1486
Provides a free, flexible, tailored service in a safe, confidential and friendly space for young people aged between 12 and 18 years and their family living on the Northern Beaches.
Karrikin Youth Mental Health Service – 1800 937 776
Supports young people between 12 and 25 experiencing complex to severe mental health concerns. Karrikin is a mobile and assertive outreach mental health treatment service providing multidisciplinary case management
Headspace Brookvale – 9937 6500
Support for young people aged between 12 and 25 years with mild to moderate mental health needs.
Avalon Youth Hub – 0487 936 875
Drop in and referrals, workshops, events and outreach for young people aged between 12 and 25 and their families.
Gidget Foundation Australia – 1300 851 758
Gidget Foundation Australia provides counselling and group programs to support the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents. Available locally at Gidget House, Manly.