As medical professionals, it’s important we realise that proper health doesn’t just stop with the physical condition of a person. Mental health is slowly becoming a topic that is talked about more often – and for good reason! Our emotional wellbeing is just as important as our physical health, and to achieve both one of our first stops is our GP.

We thought September, a month that contains R U OK Day which aims at combating suicide, was as good a time as any to place more focus on mental health. We’d like to do our part to encourage medical professionals as well as individuals to open up the lines of communication and discuss an issue that impacts millions of Australians every year.

Sparking a conversation can have a dramatic impact, and in some cases even save someone’s life. Whether it is friends, family members, co-workers or even strangers, simply asking if they are okay can be one of the best decisions you make.

When more help is needed

Mental illness is something that we are sharing more openly, and it is by being open about the topic that sufferers feel more confident in raising their issues with others. Of course, while talking with friends and family may help, there are going to be some conversations that may be too big for them to handle alone. There may also be individuals who are more comfortable talking to someone that is outside of their social circle or has professional experience. Seeking expert support is encouraged to ensure individuals get the help they need, and there are a number of ways sufferers can reach out.

Help lines

In Australia, there are a number of resources available to those who would like assistance in coping with mental illness.

Suicide Line: 1300 651 251

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800

MensLine: 1300 78 99 78

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4436

Mental health and your GP

Your GP is a great place to openly discuss mental health concerns and work together to form an action plan moving forward. Those who are diagnosed with a mental illness can be eligible for a mental health care plan. This plan gives the patient the ability to get money back from Medicare for up to 10 individual or groups sessions with allied mental health service each year. To see the plan is working for you and you are experiencing improvements – as well as ensure you and your doctor build a relationship where you can work together – patients need to visit the doctor again after six sessions to be eligible for the remaining four sessions.

Speaking up and asking for help is tough for many of us, especially when discussing our personal experiences or troubles. However, this first step is the most important one and there are always people that want to provide the support you need.

Start a live changing conversation today.