“I didn't know anything about mental illness before I was diagnosed, even after working as a nurse. Now I want to help others understand.”
There are many different types of mental health conditions and disorders, and a wide range of symptoms within each of them. They can be experienced on a sliding scale from mild to severe, and short-term to longer-term; with some being quite serious.
It's important for everybody to look after their wellbeing. Mental ill-health can happen to anyone, and it can strongly affect a person's behaviour, physical health, relationships, ability to do work, and even their feelings and perceptions of the world. With the right support, things can improve.
If you feel you need support, there are options available. Talking to people you trust is a first step, as is seeking professional support. Focusing on self-care and finding peers who have gone through something similar are a few other options.
Digital mental health resources can often be just as effective as talking to someone face-to-face. If you're not comfortable talking to someone in person, that may be the way to go. Whatever you choose, trust is a very important factor.
Head to Health is not here to diagnose or give clinical advice, but we can help in other ways. We can give you ideas on how to improve your overall wellbeing, and we can point you to the organisations and digital mental health resources that can best help with your situation.
A closer look
Understanding your diagnosis
If you or someone you know has been to see a doctor and received a diagnosis of a mental health condition or disorder, there are a few things you should know. Things can change over time, and not all diagnoses are right the first time around. Getting a second opinion can often ensure that an accurate diagnosis is given and correct treatments are considered.
Learning about the mental health condition
You can find out more about a mental health condition online or via your healthcare professional. It’s helpful to learn the common features, behaviours, and treatments of the condition. You can get ideas on self-care and how to manage symptoms as well as receive support. Forums can be handy for learning from other people’s experiences and strategies for coping with a mental health condition or disorder.
Talking about mental health difficulties
Australians’ understanding of mental health is growing. Many Australians know someone who has experienced a mental health condition. It is becoming easier to talk and share about mental ill-health and avoid discrimination.
Everyone’s situation and needs are different. What’s most important is taking the time to find what's right for you. There are some ideas below to get you started.
To discover what professional help is available, visit our professional support page or search for health professionals near you using the National Health Services Directory.
If you are caring for someone, you may find our page on support for carers useful.
You can also visit Sam the chatbot, who can guide you to some tailored digital resources. Or, if you know what you are looking for, you can search our digital resources.
If you need help urgently, click here.
What I've learned about recovery is that it's an up and down journey, particularly because I was initially diagnosed with depression, then bipolar disorder. Diagnosis can sometimes take a long time.
I had periods of depression and mania from childhood right through my twenties, but didn't know what happening to me. I was 35 before I was finally diagnosed correctly with bipolar disorder. That's quite common, as many people get diagnosed with depression, but don't realise they're unwell or seek help when they're in the middle of a manic episode.
I first realised something was wrong when I was about 13. I remember feeling very empty and confused about how numb I was feeling. I just started crying and I couldn't eat my dinner. My mum didn't really know what was going on. I just went to my room and isolated myself a bit.
My mental health issues were triggered by my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and a secondary auto-immune disease, combined with the stress of being a new mother to an extremely unsettled baby; causing chronic insomnia and anxiety. This all fed into each other until I became severely anxious and depressed for a significant amount of time. In particular, my psychiatrist and endocrinologist had to unpick and address all these issues separately to ensure my mental health issues were managed appropriately.
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool (opens in a new tab).