Mental health

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Mental health problems and where to get help

Read on for information about what a mental health problem is, how to identify if you have a problem, and where to find help.

What are mental health problems?

Mental health problems are very common. In any one year about one in five adult Australians experience a mental health problem. Many people suffer a mental illness for a long time before they seek help.

A mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person thinks, behaves, or interacts with other people. A mental health problem also affects a person in a similar way, but to a lesser extent than a mental illness.

A mental illness is diagnosed according to standardised criteria, according to type and degree of severity. Some of the major types are:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar mood disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders.

These illnesses may also be referred to as a mental disorder, mental impairment or psychiatric disability.

Do I need help?

Sometimes, things get out of hand. A severe illness, an accident or an emotional crisis can overwhelm us. At times, it can be hard to admit we need help, especially when emotions are involved.

It is important that you seek out help if you are worried about yourself, a friend or another family member.

Some common issues that may affect a person’s mental health include:

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Serious emotional problems such as depression, anxiety or psychosis.

Here are some indicators to help you decide if you need help:

  • You find yourself overwhelmed by feelings of anger or despair, and you cannot enjoy life anymore
  • You used to be healthy, but now are always feeling sick and missing work or studies
  • You cannot get over the death of a loved one
  • You are afraid your marriage may break up or your parents will get a divorce
  • You are drinking too much or having some kind of drug problem
  • You are feeling suicidal.

For more information on how to recognise the symptoms of some common disorders, see Identifying mental health problems and conditions.

How to find help

There are many different sources of help in your community. Some of the people you should contact include:

If you feel that self-harm is the problem, arrange for a thorough assessment with a fully-trained and experienced psychologist or psychiatrist. They can help you develop a treatment plan, which may include individual therapy, group therapy and/or medication.

Crisis or emergency

If you feel desperate and need help immediately, you should call or visit the emergency department of your local hospital.

You can also find information about your local mental health services from the WA Mental Health Commission website, and their list of services and support.