Content warning: this post contains details of depression and suicide, and may be triggering for some readers.
Today, the second Thursday of September, is R U OK? day.
The campaign serves as a national reminder to sincerely ask our mates, R U OK? and hopes to stimulate a broader, ongoing conversation about the state of our mental health.
It is, in my opinion, one of the most important days on our calendar. The simple question promotes awareness of Australia’s most lethal health condition for young people, and goes some way in destigmatising mental illness.
My concern is, however, that as a country, we are not at all prepared for the answer.
Research estimates that one in five people are not OK today.
Approximately one million Australians are suffering from depression, and an estimated two million from anxiety.
We know that the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 44 is suicide.
In any given year, 65,000 Australians will attempt to take their own life.
Just today, it is estimated that we will lose eight Australians to suicide.
But despite the fact that mental illness accounts for an enormous 14 per cent of our country’s health burden, less than seven per cent of health expenditure goes towards mental illness.
A few years ago, I realised I was not OK.
I went to my local GP, who had me tick a few boxes on a sheet of paper, before prescribing me a very high dosage of medication with no forewarning of the debilitating side effects.
I was then referred to a psychologist. At the time I was a University student who could barely afford my train fare. The consultation cost me $140.
Scroll through to see more photos from R U OK? Day. Images via Instagram. (Post continues after gallery.)
I went back to my GP and explained that this was a fee I could simply not afford. He suggested my parents help out with the cost, and looked at me sympathetically while I cried in his office.