Guest Post: #MentalAs helps put mental health on the national agenda

By ‎@natashamitchell‎
Friday, 10 October 2014

#MentalAs is ABC’s (@ABCaustralia) initiative for Mental Health Week (Oct. 5-12) to raise awareness, challenge taboos and share stories about mental health and illness. Across the week, we have rolled out a huge variety of special broadcasts, documentaries, live events and of course online engagement through Twitter.


This week you can make a difference by Tweeting the hashtag #MentalAs and taking three simple actions: Talk. Give. Seek.

Talk

The conversation about mental health sparked across Australia on Twitter this week has been nothing short of extraordinary (see #MentalAs and #ChangingMinds).

We’ve all encountered mental illness in some shape or form — in our own lives or the lives of loved ones, friends, family, colleagues or neighbours. Experiences like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia are so commonplace — almost half of us will be afflicted by a mental disorder at some point in our lifetime — yet we often feel reluctant to talk about it openly. Why is that?

Stigma has a lot to do with it. So does prejudice, fear, confusion and lack of understanding.

MentalAs is about confronting that stigma head on, and to help us do that prominent Australians like Rove McManus (@Rove), Deborah Mailman, Todd Sampson (@toddsampsonOz), Lindsay McDougall (@Doctortriplej), Adam Hills (@adamhillscomedy), Alex Perry, Justine Clark and others have been speaking out as #MentalAs ambassadors….



@ABCTV and ABC Radio have been programming compelling, challenging and compassionate programs about mental health themes throughout the week…and you can catch up with it all via @ABCIview. Rounding off the week tonight will be “Friday Night Crack Up,” a live variety show hosted by the wonderful @EddiePerfect. A stellar cast of performers will be joining the Friday Night Crack Up antics and will use the Twitter Mirror to Tweet out photos from backstage.

Follow @ABCTV while watching “Friday Night Crack Up” to see the stars at play live.


Give

#MentalAs is about raising awareness, but crucially it’s about raising funds for mental health research too. Research is vital if we are to better understand what contributes to mental illness — socially, psychologically and biologically — and how to respond to and prevent it.

In partnership with the Society of Mental Health Research (@_SMHR_), we’re raising money for mental health research. If every Australian donated just a dollar, we could make that over 23 million dollars. Let’s do this people!

Top Australian artists have also donated beautiful works of art that you’ll be able to bid for in a MentalAs charity art auction.


Seek

I’m proud to be a #MentalAs ambassador, but we can all be ambassadors for mental health. It starts with reaching out to others at difficult times, and encouraging them to seek help when they most need it. A staggering 65% of people with mental illness don’t access medical services or support. That’s a lot of people struggling in silence. Let’s work together to change that picture.

Spread the word using #MentalAs, point people to the #MentalAs website for more information, and DONATE!

Every contribution big or small will count. You can even donate on someone else’s behalf — even your boss!