A GOLD Coast networking and relationships expert is urging Queenslanders to get connected and prioritise their relationships, to help improve Australia’s mental health.
Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimate that almost half of the country’s population aged 16-85 years will experience a mental disorder at some time in their life.
The figures estimate that 1 in 5 people, or 20 per cent of the population, have experienced a common mental disorder in the previous 12 months. That’s roughly 3.8 million people.
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Of these, anxiety disorders such as social phobia were the most prevalent, affecting 1 in 7 people, or 14 per cent of the population, followed by affective disorders, such as depression.
Local relationships expert Janet Culpitt said while the approach to improving mental health nationally was multi-faceted, establishing connections, relationships and friendships were crucial.
“The report confirms that social relationships and networks can act as protective factors against the onset or recurrence of mental illness and enhance recovery from mental disorders,” Janet said.
“In fact, the statistics show, of the people who had contact with their family, those who had family members to rely on or confide in were less likely to have a 12-month mental disorder.
“Of the people who had contact with their friends, those who had friends to rely on or confide in were also less likely to have a 12-month mental disorder.
“The importance of good mental health, and its impact on all Queenslanders and all Australians, cannot be underestimated.
“It is crucial for our communities to be connected – the impact of social relationships on our health and wellbeing is well-documented and cannot be ignored.
“When an individual or community’s social needs aren’t met, it can lead to a range of mental health impacts – including loneliness, low self-esteem, poor mental health and even depression.
“Our communities must be well-connected – to foster support, encourage conversations about mental health and to assist people in need.
“I work hard to help people at every age and stage in life to build their relational networks – from everyday acquaintances to colleagues, friends and family relationships.
“Relationships are the fabric of our society – to improve mental health across the board, reduce anxiety, address social fears and help people through depression – we need better relationships.
“In many cases, we as Queenslanders need to shift from superficial, glossed-over conversations to really caring about each other – sharing experiences, ideas and learnings.
“We can all improve our lives and relationships across our communities – starting today. It’s about being willing to think differently about what it means to connect and contribute to our community.”