What is it like living with a mental illness as an adolescent and how do I know if I should seek support?

Information about mental health issues has never been more readily available and accessible, and inspired by the success Mental Health Week has experienced in their campaign to generate greater awareness and reduce the stigma that shrouds mental health problems and the individuals and families who live with them, I write this next blog. www.abc.net.au/mentalas

Working as a Psychotherapist with emphasis on my clients mental health, I have been particularly excited about the ABC’s contribution to Mental Health Week in providing documentaries, information, and reports on a broad range of mental health issues that can be encountered by both young and old and various demographics in between.

Sometimes mental health issues are difficult to comprehend, and sometimes it can be even more difficult for an individual living with a mental health problem to describe their general experience of it, let alone express how it feels to try and function day to day. But one documentary allows us as an audience to experience, even if just peripherally, what our youth of today who suffer with mental health issues are confronted with. “Diaries of a Broken Mind,” is a powerful documentary that has enabled 25 young people from the UK to ‘show’ us what it is like living with a mental health issue, and each of their experiences is different. In this documentary every participant was given a camera to record their experience and also to film the world the way they see it.

Though I see clients on a daily basis (particularly youth) with concerns regarding their mental health, this documentary provides an amazing insight into not only their daily struggles, but also their triumphs at home. This program documents and highlights how our youth cope day to day, where they draw their support from, and how others can have the wrong idea about them as an outsider looking in… there is a pin-up model who suffers from social anxiety, a teenage girl struggling with bipolar and when manic being perceived as the life of a party, and an ex male-model suffering low self-esteem and self-medicating with alcohol. This program is still available on ABC iview and is definitely worth a watch!

How do I know if I or someone I care for needs support?

Below are some signs to look out for, especially if you notice significant or negative change in these areas:

– Feeling low or depressed
– Feeling nervous, stressed or anxious
– Trouble sleeping
– Changes in appetite or diet (restrictive or over-eating, or weight loss or gain).
– Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
– Changes in behaviour
– Substance misuse or abuse
– Emotional outbursts

If you have concerns about yourself or someone you care for, I would encourage you to consider for yourself or alternatively gently suggest to that person that they don’t have to go through this alone. Support and resources are available in many forms online and this can be a really positive first step to educate yourself about different mental illnesses and how they present as well as support services available to you, however if you would like to consider a face to face consult please don’t hesitate in calling the practice on 8361 7008.

Alyce Mayman, Psychotherapist


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