ALMOST half (45 per cent) of Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Each day, eight Australians take their own lives. In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44.
They are staggering statistics, to which the Jewish community is not immune. Yet, there remains an abyss of silence shrouding the issue of mental illness.
Coinciding with World Mental Health Day today (Thursday), this Big Issue of The AJN shines the light on mental health, in an aim to further the destigmatisation of mental illness, instead opening a dialogue, and putting it at the forefront of conversation.
This edition sees seven pages dedicated to the topic, and features a panel of mental health experts who tackle the big questions; an exploration of the unique mental health challenges faced by men and how the community is responding; and a thoughtful piece which investigates the role of religion in mental health.
Perhaps most poignantly, our feature offers a portrait of five very intimate and raw accounts of community members who share their struggles with mental health in their own words.
Their strength and courage in speaking out are admirable and inspiring. Yet, the inescapable fact that we struggled to find people who were willing to share, and that all chose to remain anonymous is indicative of the stigma that remains and the immense societal progress still desperately needed in this area.
We primarily focus on two of the most common mental illnesses, depression and anxiety.
Of course, we understand there are a plethora more, not represented in these pages, but it is important to note that this edition is just the beginning of a conversation.
We also present a range of helpful tools which encourage mental wellness. Dr Elise Bialylew shares her insights for adopting mindfulness in the everyday, we share some of the apps and podcasts which can add a little positivity to your day, and the contacts that you need to reach out for more assistance.
And if you do need it, please do seek help. We implore you to take full advantage of the services on offer, both within the Jewish and broader community.
There is no shame in asking for help. We also encourage you to take a look at what you can do to break the taboo – as an individual, and a community member or organisation.
Together, we can all play a part in tackling mental health issues.