October 2014 Newsletter from Graeme Cowan

In this issue:

  • Leadership and Creating a Mentally Healthy Work Culture
  • Video highlights from my life changing R U OK? Kokoda Trail Fundraiser
  • First Resilience Conference Perth Nov 13-14
  • Using Comedy to Fight Stigma Sydney October 30

The newsletter contains a link to more details about the Conference and registration.

Mental Illness Study Reveals Workplace ‘Fear Factor’

One in five Australians are potentially being overlooked for job opportunities due to the ‘fear factor’ in hiring people who have a mental illness, according to new Not for Profit research. The Empowermental research report, released by WISE Employment explores the attitudes of 256 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Australia towards hiring disadvantaged people including those who have a mental illness. Pro Bono Australia News October 7, 2014.

Mental Health Campaign for Indigenous Youth

A national campaign that aims to get Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people to talk about problems affecting their mental health and well-being has been launched. The campaign is said to be the first youth-led national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth mental health campaign of its kind and is being lead by Not for Profit organisation headspace. Pro Bono Australia News, September 30, 2014

Antidepressants can affect the brain in just three HOURS

A single dose of antidepressant medication is enough to produce dramatic changes in the brain within three hours, a study has found. Volunteers had their brains scanned after taking the widely-prescribed drug escitalopram, marketed in the UK as Cipralex and Lexapro in the U.S. Daily Mail, Australia, September 20, 2014

A Blood Test For Depression Shows The Illness Is Not A Matter Of Will

A new test that identifies particular molecules in the blood could help doctors diagnose patients with clinical depression, according to a new study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry. The blood test can also predict which therapies would be most successful for patients, and lays the groundwork for one day identifying people who are especially vulnerable to depression — even before they’ve gone through a depressive episode. huffingtonpost.com, September 16, 2014

Working Through Depression Key

Continuing to work while suffering a depressive illness could help employees to better manage their depression more than taking sick leave, a new study has found. The joint study from the University Of Melbourne and the Menzies Research Institute at the University of Tasmania is the first to estimate the long-term costs and health outcomes of depression-related absence as compared to individuals who continue to work among employees with depression in Australia. Pro Bono Australia News, September 11, 2014

Exercise for your mental health

Research has long shown exercise is a simple remedy for stress and depression – and now the medical world is starting to take notice. Flinders exercise physiologist Kim Allsopp regularly works with GPs and psychiatrists treating clients with depression. He devises fitness regimes to complement patients’ mental health care plans, encouraging people to consider exercise as a critical part of their treatment. The Black Dog Institute is also campaigning for exercise as a stress relief through its Exercise Your Mood scheme, running through September.illawarramercury.com.au, September 1, 2014

Mental health lessons cut illness, stigma

A Black Dog Institute study of students who undertook its HeadStrong program showed improved awareness led to better mental health and acceptance. Mental health lessons for secondary school students can reduce stigma and have a potentially lifelong effect, a study has found. sbs.com.au September 1, 2014

Don’t put your health on backburner

ALISON Fairleigh’s journey with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was tough. Now a leading advocate on mental health, the 2013 Rural Industries Research Industry Corporation Queensland Rural Women of the Year says suicide is ripping apart rural communities, which is a great waste because suicide is preventable. theland.com.au, August 31, 2014

Young men taking their lives at twice the rate in bush mental health crisis

YOUNG men in the bush are almost twice as likely to take their lives as those living in cities in a devastating toll that underlines the crisis in mental health care in the country. Even though 30 per cent of the population live outside metropolitan areas nearly 90 per cent of the nation’s psychiatrists are located in cities. In some remote towns the Royal Flying Doctor Service is the only mental health service available and they are often fully booked. news.com.au, August 31, 2014

Mental health stigma hasn’t gone away

According to the Mental Health Foundation, depression affects about 1 in 12 people in the population, and about 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Since Williams’ death, talk of depression and suicide has been near constant in the media. In short, depression is everywhere. Does that mean that it’s easier for someone with depression to talk about it? www.theguardian.com, August 2014

Comparing depression to cancer doesn’t help anyone

Robin Williams’s suicide has led many to open up about depression in an effort to raise awareness about how many people are living in misery. One of the most common themes in this public discussion has been that depression is a disease like any other. But is depression just like cancer, asthma or diabetes? Making these comparisons can be useful in a personal sense, but if the analogy is not backed up by research, it may be standing in the way of helping people in need. theconversation.com August 18, 2014.

Computer games may ease elderly depression, study finds

BRAIN-boosting computer games may be as effective as, or even better than drugs in treating severe depression in some elderly people according to trial results. A group of 60-to-89-year-olds, for whom anti-depressants had not worked, perked up after four weeks of playing computer games that had been developed to improve brain fitness, scientists wrote in the journal Nature Communications. theaustralian.com.au August 6, 2014.

Disclosing mental illness in the workplace : should you tell ?

While there’s less stigma around mental illness than there used to be, many people remain unsure about whether to share information about their mental health at work. abc.net.au August 11, 2014

Social media – the good news for mental health

It is widely reported that social media has mental health benefits in terms of feelings of inclusion and social connectedness. For people who experience barriers to social interaction, communicating with people over social media can increase feelings of connectedness with positive outcomes for self-esteem, attitude and decreased feelings of loneliness. www.infoxchange.net.au

Veterans to get better access to mental health services

Australia’s military veterans will be able to gain treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression without having to prove their condition is related to their service, under new conditions introduced on Tuesday, the first day of the new financial year. www.smh.com.au, July 1, 2014

Mentally ill may lose disability support pension, welfare head Patrick McClure suggests

Mr McClure said he did not know how many of the 830,000 recipients on the Disability Support Pension would be moved off it, but suggested people with mental illnesses could be one such group. The report suggests people would be thrown off the DSP if they have the capacity to work, which Mr McClure said mentally ill people did. www.theaustralian.com.au,

June 30, 2014

High Rate of Mental Illness in Young People – Report

One in five young Australians are likely to be experiencing mental illness, and less than 40 per cent are comfortable seeking professional help, according to a new Mission Australia report released in partnership with the Black Dog Institute. The Youth Mental Health Report, which was launched by the NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley, also found the rate of mental illness among young Australians aged 15-19 was much higher among females and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, while young people with a disability were also overrepresented. Pro Bono Australia news, June 18, 2014.

Aussies Value Mentally Healthy Workplaces

Almost half of Australian workers are leaving jobs because their workplaces are mentally unhealthy, a new survey has revealed. Pro Bono Australia news, June 6, 2014.

Social housing stress mentally ill

People living with a mental illness are struggling to cope with the new set of pressures that comes with living in social housing, a new report has found. Pro Bono Australia news, May 27, 2014.

Mental Health Education Best at Work

Recent research has revealed for the first time that evidence-based workplace depression prevention programs can significantly reduce depression symptoms among employees. Pro Bono Australia news, May 26, 2014.

NFP Launches Corporate Campaign on Mental Health

Depression Not for Profit beyondblue has launched a national campaign in conjunction with the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance to encourage Australia’s business leaders to take action on mental health.  Pro Bono Australia news, May 21, 2014.

4 Steps to Mastering a Setback

The 4 Steps to Mastering a Setback discussed by Graeme Cowan are practical activities we can do each day to immunize ourselves from the emotional toll of a crisis.

It’s time to break down the myths about Schizophrenia

This Media Release from SANE Austtralia discusses the myths,  the stigmatism and misunderstandings about Schizophrenia.

Getting mental health reform back on track: a leadership challenge for the new Australian Government

Mental health is still underfunded [in 2013] and continues to be locked into hospital care. This mode of service configuration appears largely provider driven when compared, for example, with client and family priorities. David Richmond, Chair, Richmond Inquiry. mja.com.au

Social Housing Stress for Mentally Ill – Report

href=”http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/health-a-medicine/item/2809-wa-researcher-tackles-depression-prevention-in-later-life”>WA researcher tackles depression prevention in later life

A summary of research on depression in older adults has uncovered a need for health professionals to take a more active role in its prevention. In his review of the risk factors associated with depression in this age group, Osvaldo Almeida from the West Australian Centre for Health and Ageing suggests mental health professionals work collaboratively to develop preventative interventions that can be incorporated easily into clinical practice. sciencewa.net.au May 6, 2014.

Giving Disability Carers a Break – Report

Disability carers are extremely resilient and resourceful, but their mental and physical well-being would decline significantly if support services disappeared or were diminished, a new Not for Profit report has found. The finding comes in a new 60-page Wesley Mission report called Giving disability carers a break.  The results are from a survey and interviews with disability carers in January this year.

Mental Health System Needs Urgent Rethink

This article on the Pro Bono Australia website contains commentary on a report on the mental health system in Australia. The report, called Crossroads – Rethinking the Australian Mental Health System, is a collaboration between EY and ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation.

NDIS: Parents say disability scheme failing to deliver support promised

Parents of disabled children say the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is failing to deliver what was promised. It was launched nearly 10 months ago at five trial sites across Australia, and in South Australia has a focus on children up to the age of 14. But some parents say they are feeling ambushed and confused as they try to negotiate the bureaucracy. abc.net.au May 1, 2014

Australia’s mental health system not meeting demand, should focus on self-help: report

A new report is calling for a major re-think of Australia’s mental health system, which it says is not meeting demand. The Crossroads report was prepared by Ernst and Young and the ReachOut online youth mental health service for the Inspire Foundation. The article linked contains more information, a video and a preview of the report. abc.net.au March 11, 2014.

Perinatal depression program in limbo despite illness’ toll

Postnatal depression and anxiety strike as many as one in seven new mothers in Australia and the economic cost of leaving the illnesses untreated is estimated at over half a billion dollars a year, yet a Government health initiative is in limbo.

Perinatal depression estimated to cost $535 million a year if left untreated

A new report obtained by ABC’s 7.30 estimates the cost of leaving the perinatal illness untreated at $535 million a year – and that funding is in jeopardy. The ABC page also contains a video and related link. abc.net.au/news/ April 3, 2014

Mental health funding extension offers hope SANE Australia report

SANE Australia commends the Australian Government for its decision to continue funding for existing mental health and suicide prevention programs during 2014-15, while it considers the recommendations of the Mental Health Commission’s national review. A document is available for viewing and downloading on the page on this website. Sane Australia, April 4 2014.


Depression Discrimination Drops A report from beyondblue

Discriminating and stigmatising attitudes towards people with depression and anxiety have steadily decreased in Australia over the past decade, according to a new report. The report by depression Not for Profit, beyondblue has also revealed that nearly two-thirds of Australians or a family member have experienced depression. To download the full report, click here. Pro Bono Australia News, March 24, 2014. Comments can be made on their page.

Losing You: When Does Grief Become Depression? An article by a psychotherapist

When we lose something or someone that was precious and special, the sense of loss and pain inside can be enormous. If you are often feeling sad, lost and subject to uncontrollable or frequent crying it can be very difficult to tell if you are in a state of grief or depression. Natalie Graham. Posted December 18, 2013.

Suicide: how to talk to someone about it New website “Conversations Matter” launched

New website Conversations Matter aims to provide ‘practical tools to have day-to-day conversations about suicide,’ says spokesperson Jaelea Skehan. smh.com.au, November 14, 2013.

Older Aussies with Mental Illness Experience Lack of Care – Study Study by SANE Australia

A lack of support and rehabilitation services is one of the major concerns for older people living with mental illness, new research by an Australian health charity has found. SANE Australia’s study, Growing Older, Staying Well – Mental health care for older Australians, also lists inadequate care, poor health, isolation and unstable housing as major concerns for many older people with mental illness. Attached to the article on this site is a copy of SANE Australia’s report. Pro Bono Australia News, November 4, 2013.

Rebuilding Broken Brains article from New Scientist

Halving Rates of Mental Illness joint communiqué by ARACY and AAIMHI

In a joint communiqué launched at the Infant and Early Childhood Social and Emotional Wellbeing conference in Canberra, the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) and the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health (AAIMHI) called on the Federal Government to rethink the way money is invested in infant mental health. Pro Bono Australia News, October 31, 2013.

Aged-Care Residents Depressed – Report report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)

More than half of permanent aged-care residents in Australia show signs of depression, according to new research. Pro Bono Australia News, October 16, 2013.

One in 10 Aussies Use Mental Health Services report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

In 2010-11, 9 per cent of the Australian population (or 1.9 million Australians) received mental health services, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). And almost $6.9 billion was spent on mental health-related services in Australia during 2010-11, equating to $309 per person. Pro Bono Australia News, October 11, 2013

Skating on Thin Ice: Mental Illness & Homelessness research paper by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre

More work needs to be done to support people living with mental illness to sustain social housing tenancies, especially those relying on Centrelink payments, as the only alternative is life on the streets, according to new research. The research paper, Skating on Thin Ice, released by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) during Mental Health Month explores the difficulties people with mental illness face accessing and maintaining social housing. Pro Bono Australia News, October 8, 2013.

Tips to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace advice from beyondblue

Improving mental health in the workplace can save organisations from the direct and indirect costs of mental health problems, according to mental health Not for Profit beyondblue. Offering advice on its website on how to build a mentally healthy workplace, the organisation has listed some tips on how to build skills to improve mental health and develop a functional, high-achieving workplace. Pro Bono Australia News, October 7, 2013

Workers Suffer Discrimination Due to Mental Illness – Study study by the Mental Health Council of Australia

More than one in five Australians have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to mental illness, according to a study by the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA). The research, conducted for World Mental Health Day on October 10, asked people if they had witnessed discrimination at their place of work, due to their mental illness or the mental illness of a co-worker. Pro Bono Australia News, October 7, 2013

Cut suicide rate by half in ten years, say mental health experts Plan presented to new Health Minister

An Expert Reference Group on Mental Health Reform has presented a Six-Point Plan to new Health Minister, Peter Dutton, providing him with an early opportunity to take a leadership role in mental health reform. A key recommendation is to reduce Australia’s suicide rate by 10% within four years, and by 50% within ten years. SANE media release September 26, 2013

My friend’s depression is giving me anxiety A personal story

A number of my friends have recently admitted to me they are suffering from depression or anxiety. I applauded them for being brave enough to tell me and I felt compassion and concern for what they might be going through – but I also felt terrified. The website of The Sydney Morning Herald, July 25, 2013

Depression Across the Lifetime Often Traces U-Shaped Curve Florida State University College of Medicine

Researchers found that depressive symptoms were highest in early adulthood, declined in middle adulthood, and then increased somewhat in older adulthood. Moreover, this was the case whether the depressive symptoms were depressed affect (e.g., “I felt sad”), somatic complaints (e.g., “My sleep was restless”), or interpersonal problems (e.g., “I felt that people disliked me”). The researchers also found that women reported experiencing more depressive feelings in early adulthood than men did, but that men reported experiencing more depressive feelings in late adulthood. The American Pyschiatric Association, July 25, 2013

New SANE Australia report calls for action to reduce stigma against mental illness

A new study from mental health charity, SANE Australia, reports that stigma and discrimination against people with mental illness is widespread, harmful to recovery, and is a major barrier to participation in society for those affected. SANE media release July 24, 2013

Initiative to Create Mentally Healthy Workplaces National Initiative launched

Workplaces have been urged to share their strategies on creating a ‘mentally healthy’ workplace culture as part of a national initiative launched to improve mental health in the workplace. The program is a collaboration with the Black Dog Institute, the National Mental Health Commission and the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (MHWA) and aims to develop an economic case for improving mental health in the workplace and provide employers with practical guidance to drive sustainable changes in business culture and practice. Pro Bono Australia News, July 8, 2013.

Who Cares for the Carers? Report by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health

As many as seven out of 10 people caring for someone living with a mental illness are suffering high levels of mental distress, according to a new report. The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has launched the Supporting those who Care: Partners in Depression National Program Outcomes report, showing what it says is the ‘severe impact’ on the mental health and wellbeing of carers and the need for carer-focussed prevention programs. Pro Bono Australia News, May 28, 2013.

Mental Health Gets Final Reform Funding Headspace to deliver a new youth treatment service

National youth mental health foundation, Headspace will deliver a new youth treatment service as the final element of the Federal Government’s national mental health reform plan. Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler said the $247 million in Federal Government funding would allow Headspace to broaden its service to deliver nine early psychosis youth services across Australia to support young people with more complex mental illnesses. Pro Bono Australia News, May 23, 2013.

Young people go online for help during tough times Reachout.com survey

The ReachOut.com National Survey 2012 has found that young people in distress look for help online rather than seek help from a mental health professional. The cross-sectional study of more than 3,600 young people under 25 found that 75% of participants were experiencing high to very high levels of psychological distress at the time of visiting ReachOut.com, yet the majority of them (60%) had never accessed professional help. inspire.org.au May 14, 2013 and ProBono Australia News May 16, 2013.

High Cost of Mental Health Revealed Medibank report

A new report, by private health insurer Medibank, has estimated the overall cost of supporting people with mental illness in Australia at $28.6 billion per year. And the Medibank/Nous Group report says that while substantial funding is being directed at mental health, the system needs to be better coordinated. ProBono Australia News, May 9, 2013

New Partnership to Make Workplaces Mental Health Friendly beyondblue and ACCI

A new partnership between depression Not for Profit beyondblue and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is set to focus on making Australian workplaces more mental health friendly.  ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson and beyondblue chief Kate Carnell AO signed a Letter of Collaboration late last week. ProBono Australia News, April 11, 2013

Depression link for young women with insomnia sleep disorders a possible cause of depression

Young women with regular sleep problems have a four to fivefold increased risk for depression, a study of nearly 10,000 Australians has found.  Experts say sleep disorders could be the hidden cause of depression in a huge proportion of young people, with changes in sleep behaviour potentially reaping benefits in physical and mental health down the track. theage.com.au April 6, 2013

Mental Health Research Gets $10 Million Boost Victorian government grants

The Victorian Government has awarded $10 million to five innovative research projects into mental illness – including major Not for Profit and University research partnerships. Pro Bono Australia News, March 28, 2013.

Mental Health Spending on the Rise – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)

The latest figures, released on the AIHW’s Mental Health Services in Australia website, show that after allowing for inflation, spending on mental health-related services increased to almost $6.9 billion in 2010-11, an increase of about $450 million from 2009-10. Pro Bono Australia News, March 27, 2013.

Mental Health Service Goes Mobile Friendly access to on line service for young people

Young people can now use their smartphones and tablet devices to access an online mental health services staffed by qualified clinicians. Pro Bono Australia News, March 1, 2013

New Partnership to Tackle Mental Health in the Workplace beyondblue and Australian Workers Union

Mental health Not for Profit, beyondblue has formed a partnership with the Australian Workers Union (AWU) to tackle depression and anxiety in the workplace. Pro Bono Australia News, February 20, 2013

Victoria Legal Aid cuts vital mental health legal serviced media release

The Federation of Community Legal Centres is calling for the immediate reversal of a decision late last week by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) to cut funding for the Mental Health Legal Centre (MHLC), an independent community legal centre providing representation, advice and advocacy for people living with a mental illness in Victoria. Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria February 12, 2012.

Research Centres to Target Substance Use and Suicide clinical and research experts united

Two new national research centres have been launched into the most pressing mental health issues affecting the Australian community – substance use and suicide. The centres were launched in Sydney by Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek and Federal Minister for Mental Health Mark Butler. Pro Bono Australia January 31, 2013.

beyondblue Stands Up to the Insurance Industry campaign against discriminatory policies

Depression Not for Profit beyondblue has begun a campaign to fight what it claims are the insurance industry’s discriminatory policies against Australians with a mental illness – calling on the Federal Government to strengthen anti-discrimination laws. Pro Bono Australia January 24, 2013

How do we keep a person with a mental illness safe from suicide? – Q & A session

LIFE News, the online newsletter of the National Suicide Prevention Strategy, recently published a Q&A session with SANE Australia’s Jack Heath and Sarah Coker. Posted January 23, 2013.

New drug lifts hard-to-treat depression in hours Trial of drug which also targets NMDA receptors

Depression need not linger if a new class of drugs that can improve symptoms within hours becomes available. Drugs that target receptors for a chemical called NMDA appear to take effect much faster. NewScientist.com January 3, 2013.


Online Initiatives Launched to Reduce Workplace Stress free programs launched by beyondblue
beyondblue chief executive Kate Carnell said that the programs, which are accessed online via the beyondblue website, offer interactive activities and real-life video stories to help workers recognise symptoms of depression and anxiety, look after their own mental health and that of their colleagues who may be experiencing problems. Pro Bono Australia, December 18, 2012.

Committee hears of veterans with mental health issues Interview of former Chief of Army
A former Chief of Army has told a parliamentary inquiry that there are potentially thousands of current and former soldiers with mental health issues as a result of serving in Afghanistan and other deployments over the past two decades. abc.net.au November 28, 2012

Depression in Men Indicators, Symptoms, Help and Treatment
While women are more likely to experience depression, men are less likely to talk about experiencing depression and are at greater risk of their depression going unrecognised and untreated. This is thought to relate to several factors. Victorian government Better Health Channel website. Posted here November 29, 2012.

National Report Card On Mental Health ‘Confronting’ First report by Mental Health Commission
The Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, Professor Allan Fels, has described Australia’s first report card into mental health and suicide as confronting. Probono Australia News, November 27, 2012.

Archer ‘re-enactment’ keeps legend alive and focuses a new light on depression.
Australian pentathalon olympian says long-distance horse riding has things in common with depression: ”It’s a long struggle and you’re often on your own.” smh.com.au October 2, 2012

More Australians calling for help Media release by SANE Australia
More than 10,000 Australians contacted SANE Australia’s Helpline in the last 12 months, seeking advice for mental illness and suicide-prevention issues. Sane Australia October 5, 2012.

Historic meeting of non-government organisations influencing COAG plans for mental health
The inaugural meeting of the Australian Council of Non-Government Organisations (CONGO) will see members of the sector discussing issues and challenges experienced by those designing and delivering mental health policy and services. Measureable action will be high on the agenda as the non-government mental health community comes together formally for the first time at Hotel Realm on Tuesday 9 October 2012.

Australian Parliament recognises World Mental Health Day
The Hon. Mark Butler MP, Minister for Mental Health will join fellow parliamentarians and mental health sector advocates and stakeholders at a breakfast to officially launch World Mental Health Day 2012 at the House of Representatives’ Alcove, Parliament House from 7.30am on 10 October 2012.

Allan Fels on mental health and suicide prevention An address to the National Press Club
The National Mental Health Commission is a new, independent body established to tell the truth about mental health services in Australia – the good and the bad, the gaps and the shortcomings. And it’s of great significance that we are located in the Prime Minister’s portfolio. The Conversation, August 1, 2012

Depression and Antidepressants Online Knowledge Hub Launched New NPS service
To help people be medicine wise, NPS has launched a new online knowledge hub on depression and antidepressant medicines, which covers many of the questions asked via Medicines Line. healthinsite.gov.au June 12 2012

Study finds why antidepressants work better for some Reuters
British scientists have identified biological markers in the blood which should help doctors match patients to the best type of treatment for depression. reuters.com September 19 2012

We need to stop thousands of Australians from falling through the cracks Patrick McGorry
Cuts to the Better Access program – which helps people pay for their treatment – exacerbated an already serious problem, and a large number of Australians with more persistent and complex problems find themselves marooned with no access to care. news.com.au May 7th 2012.

Media Partnership a Lifeline for Crisis Chat Service news.com.au partners with Lifeline Online
A national news website, news.com.au, has partnered with Lifeline Online to raise money for a new crisis chat service. Pro Bono Australia May 3rd 2012.

Beyond Blue targets anxiety disorders National campaign to raise awareness being considered
TWELVE years after Beyond Blue began raising awareness about depression, the nonprofit organisation is preparing to set its sights on anxiety.

Grief and Mental Illness Calls for prolonged grief to be medicalised
Professor Richard Bryant told SBS’ Insight program he wants a new psychiatric disorder for bereavement which would apply when acute grieving goes on for longer than 12 months. “A serious condition threatens 10 to 15 per cent of people from six to 12 months….”

Gillard Government offers $200M for better mental health services Announcement April 13 2012
The Council of Australian Governments today agreed help improve the care and support provided to people living with severe and persistent mental illness and complex care needs through a new National Partnership Agreement. The Prime Minister’s website April 13 2012

Mental Health Workforce Growing in Australia Increases in psychiatrists and mental health nurses
The figures show that the highest rate of psychiatrists (including psychiatrists-in-training) was in major cities, while the highest rate of mental health nurses was in inner regional areas. Pro Bono Australia April 12 2012.

Hickie defends Better Access cuts – Australian Doctor interviews Professor Ian Hickie
In an exclusive interview with Australian Doctor Professor Ian Hickie defends the cuts to Better Access and explains why the system failed everyone, including GPs. Australian Doctor March 23 2012

Mental health draft (WA) detrimental to children – Changes recommended by Commissioner
WA’s Commissioner for Children and Young People has recommended an overhaul of draft laws which propose children as young as 12 could consent to treatments such as electroconvulsive therapy, psychosurgery and sterilisation without parental permission. The West Australian March 22 2012

Burning Calories at the Gym Prevents Work Burnout – Study – Job Burnout and Depression
Research shows that employees who regularly exercise don’t just bolster physical health, but also safeguard psychological well-being. More precisely, those who accomplished a weekly minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity were about half as likely to burn out or get depressed as those who did not exert themselves. theatlantic.com March 7 2012

Internet a Vital Connection for People with Mental Illness – Report by SANE
Many people with a mental illness are turning to the internet and social media to manage their lives, overcome isolation and stay connected, according to new research by the national mental health charity SANE Australia. Pro Bono Australia March 7 2012

Insurance Website Assists Australians with Mental Illness New website for help with insurance
Australians with experience of mental illness now have a new website resource to turn to for assistance with insurance, through the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) and depression Not for Profit, beyondblue. Pro Bono Australia February 22 2012

The ‘massive highs and miserable lows’ of bipolar disorder The condition can be lethal
Bipolar is a disorder characterised by mood swings, from excessive highs to excessive lows. A person with Bipolar I has episodes of mania – sometimes with psychotic features – and episodes of depression. smh.com.au February 17 2012

Spinning out the public The government’s changes to medicare for access to psychological therapy
This article expresses the view that the Government is confused about the people who use the Better Access program and that the evidence from large-scale evaluation research is being plainly distorted to rationalise cost-cutting. betteraccess.net February 6 2012

Psychologists welcome restoration of services under Medicare Interim measure welcomed
Professor Lyn Littlefield, Executive Director of the APS, welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will, from March 1, allow an extra six sessions of Medicare-subsidised mental health services as an interim measure to treat those people with exceptional needs. Australian Psychological Society February 1 2012

Depression linked to heart attacks Depression may increase risk
A study by Australia’s Charles Sturt University has found people with depression could be at greater risk of a heart attack or heart disease. skynews.com.au January 5 2012

Disorders diagnosed to suit any condition New conditions proposed for Manual of Mental Disorders
New conditions proposed for the fifth edition of the psychiatrist’s bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is due to be finalised next year, have caused an international outcry. smh.com.au December 4 2011

Psychiatrist Sidney Bloch talks about psychiatry Confusion and fears about mental illness
“I have learned through my clinical and research endeavours that I have many validated treatment strategies at my disposal to assist people with troubled minds.” smh.com.au November 28 2011

Mental health counselling cuts hit hard Number of sessions paid by Medicare reduced
Following a $580 million cut to the Better Access program in November, the number of yearly counselling sessions mental health patients can claim from Medicare dropped from 18 to 10. smh.com.au November 28 2011

Policy to be run by those who have battled depression New NSW Mental Health Commission
The NSW minister for mental health, Kevin Humphries, says it means that the commission’s work will be informed by the direct and personal experience of mental illness of one of its senior officials. smh.com.au November 24 2011

Nearly quarter of global workforce depressed New study from management consultant firm
Of 1,200 respondents, 92 percent linked the current state of their mental health to job performance huffingtonpost.com November 11 2011.

Depression treatment beyond Jeff Kennett Psychologist cautions against an oversimplified view
After 10 years of good groundwork, do we need something new from Beyond Blue and other key mental health institutions? nsw.psnews (published here November 5 2011)

Teen depression: what you need to know The prevalence of depression has people stumped
The reality is that the incidence of adolescent depression is increasing. Research indicates that the average on-set age of depression in 1960 was thirty years or older. Today it is fifteen years or younger. mamamia.com.au November 4 2011

Men lost, confused and insecure and that’s good to know say therapists
More than twice the number of men are accessing Medicare-funded mental health services compared with five years ago, official figures show. At the same time, therapists are reporting more men are coming to seek help as they struggle to find their place. news.com.au October 26 2011

It’s time to move on from ECT’s shocking past New criticisms are emerging
Discussions about the treatment of severely depressed patients are important, but in order to have a robust community debate, we need to set a few things straight about the risks and benefits of ECT. The Conversation September 29 2011

Proof of the pill: cutting out the guesswork in prescribing antidepressants
Research remains speculative about how the effects of antidepressants are produced. Researchers are trying to answer the questions to cut out some of the guess work out of prescribing antidepressants. The Conversation September 23 2011

Depression and anxiety disorders Telling the difference
While depression and anxiety are characterised as distinct syndromes, they co-occur in over half of all cases. So are they different presentations of the same disorder? The Conversation August 29 2011

Selling sickness or dulling pain Pros and cons of antidepressants
Are health professionals treating normal sadness as a clinical disorder and over-prescribing antidepressants? Or is depression a disease manufactured by Big Pharma to sell more antidepressants, as some have suggested? The Conversation June 17 2011

Bosses ignorant of mental health issues Survey of people who have a mental illness
SANE Australia’s survey of 520 people found most mentally ill people get no understanding from their employer and many find it hard to keep their job because of a lack of flexibility. ABC Radio National, August 25th 2011

Suicide girls on antidepressants banned in Britain Antidepressants linked to juvenile suicide
TWO 16-year-old girls who hanged themselves while under the watch of Queensland’s child safety officials had been prescribed antidepressants that have been linked to juvenile suicide and banned from use by young people in Britain. The Australian, August 25th 2011

Miracle at The Gap: the day Nellie tried to end it and came out alive Nellie saved by a freak wave
Through an extraordinary, once-in-a-century quirk of fate, a freak wave engulfs the rocks below with such a flood that she hits deep water instead. She’s alive! The Sydney Morning Herald, August 22nd 2011

From the Darkness Within The increasing prevalence of depression and anxiety in males
Men are increasingly prone to these conditions, with dangerous, often-fatal consequences. Men are much less likely to talk about their problems or to seek help, and in the past 30 years the suicide rate for males aged 15 to 24 years has tripled. theweeklyreview.com.au, June 2nd 2011

Should children be given anti-depressants? Arguments for and against medicating children
Now news has emerged children aged six and under are being prescribed the drugs at a soaring rate and antidepressants are once again setting off alarm bells. The Australian Women’s Weekly, May 30th 2011

Budget 2011-12: Patrick McGorry on mental health
Professor Patrick McGorry talks about the new funding for mental health. ABC, May 11th 2011

Love, Wisdom, Motherhood: A long time campaigner on mental health issues
Jessica Rowe talks about her experience and book in the linked podcast. ABC, May 5th 2011

Gene linked to depression: suspect gene linked to major depression
German scientists made the discovery after comparing DNA from more than 15,000 depressed and healthy patients. The Sydney Morning Herald, April 29 2011

Doctors issue warning on Facebook use: Possible benefits and risks
Some connect Facebook with depression but others say using the site is not “going to somehow infect kids with depression”. news.com.au, March 28 2011

Deep Brain Stimulation: Electrode treatment aiding mentally ill
deep brain stimulation – was emerging as a safe and effective treatment for severe depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. The Age, March 2nd 2011

Choose Life: Reducing youth suicide
Dr Jane Burns talks about a major new initiative aimed at reducing youth suicide, and encourages people to talk more. The Age, February 14th 2011

Depression No Joke for Blokes: Depression cuts years off the lives of Australian men
Depression cuts more years off the lives of Australian men than liver disease and colon cancer. The Advertiser, December 20 2010

Call To Fill Mental Health Void: Improving access to psychological therapies
Australia should trial a UK-based program that is helping people with moderate depression and anxiety, and which could fill a major gap in existing services, says a leading psychiatrist. The Sydney Morning Herald, November 24, 2010

Disease Model Could Limit Treatment: An opinion
An interesting article written by a practicing psychologist, Lyn Bender. Her main argument is that the medical model of depression is too simplistic and not overly helpful. A more helpful view of depression is a biographical model which looks at the person’s story. November 16, 2010

Politicians hailed for facing up to depression: Depression long linked to politics
Their high public profile also helps explain why a rash of MPs at state and federal level – most recently the former prime minister Bob Hawke – have revealed their struggles with the illness. July 16 2010

Dads Need PND Advice: Australian websites lack support for Dads
A review of popular parenting and mental health websites has shown how, when it comes to dealing with postnatal depression, dads are often overlooked. March 8, 2010

Unhealthy Diet Could Fuel Depression In Women: A good diet may support mental well-being
Women who suffer from depression and anxiety may want to take a look at their diet as a possible contributor to these conditions, study findings suggest. The Sydney Morning Herald, January 15, 2010

Many Still Believe Depression Comes With Motherhood: Mothers less likely to seek help
Most people think depression is a ”normal” part of pregnancy and women do not need treatment, according to a survey by the mental health group beyondblue. The Sydney Morning Herald, November 16, 2009

Tai Chi May Fight Obesity, Depression: Initial trial extremely encouraging
A Tai Chi-based exercise program is being hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against depression, diabetes and obesity. A research project was under way when this article was published. The Age, January 20, 2010

Sleep Deprivation Tied To Depression: Hyper-arousal is not just a problem at night
Up to 10 per cent of the Australian population suffers from chronic insomnia, a leading expert says, and for them it’s a debilitating condition with potentially only one upside. The Sydney Morning Herald, July 31, 2009

Is Depression Overdiagnosed? – A debate by two of Australia’s leading psychiatrists
Rates of diagnosis of depression have risen steeply in recent years. Gordon Parker believes this is because current criteria are medicalising sadness, but Ian Hickie argues that many people are still missing out on lifesaving treatment. Published August 16, 2007

The Bottom Line – Thoughts on taking control of depression
I think most of us are searching for that ‘bottom line’… an understanding of the point to our painful existence. As many of you know, the journey to the bottom is loathsome. Nathan shares his thoughts on ways to turn some of the negatives into positives for us, and what works for him.

Slipping Through The Cracks – Traversing Australia’s Mental Health System
For the 1 in 5 Australians who suffer from depression Chloe’s story is all too familiar. The battle for most does not stop with the illness itself, once diagnosed, sufferers find themselves navigating the wreck that is our public mental health system, looking for care that will never come, before finally falling through the cracks.

The Evolution of Depression – Does it have a role?
An interesting philosophical discussion in the form of an ABC Radio interview conducted by Natasha Mitchell with 2 evolutionary biologists. January, 2005

Stop Your Depression Before It Starts – An overview of possible preventative strategies
Until we can find out for certain what chemical changes occur when someone becomes depressed, and find out what triggers them, we will not even begin to be able to discover whether one can prevent depression.

Ethnicity and Depression
Ethnicity may play a role in how people respond to antidepressants, with new research showing that those of Chinese background are more sensitive to the medication than Caucasians. October 25, 2004

Development And Exploration Of A New Model For Understanding Depression
This paper presents a model of depression that is an elaboration of the currently dominant ‘biopsychosocial’ model. It is very long, (approx 6,000 words) and includes a good overview of possible causes and treatments for depression.

Critical Condition – A parents nightmare journey with his son
Jason Bond suffered from a depressive illness. He was 20 years old when he killed himself after being discharged from a Melbourne hospital. Here, Graeme Bond recalls the events leading up to his son’s death, which he blames partly on the poor state of mental health care in Victoria. (The Age, March 17th 2004)

The Ageing of Discontent – The disturbing reality of suicide in our elderly
Every morning my friend visits a Melbourne nursing home to help his mother get out of bed and dressed for the day. Every morning, without fail, she tells him that she wishes she were dead. (The Australian, February 2004)

Depression a key suspect in dementia cases
Feeling depressed for long periods without receiving treatment creates degenerative changes to the brain, making sufferers more susceptible to dementia later in life, new research has revealed. (News Limited, 21-22/02/2004)

Understanding Depression
Around 800,000 Australian adults suffer from depression every year, and on average, one in five people will experience clinical depression at some time in their lives. Depression is the leading cause of suicide, yet it is often misunderstood and regarding as somewhat less serious than a physical illness. (Women’s Fitness and Health, March 2004)

Some Thoughts on the Causes of My Depression
Long term depression sufferer Nigel Sinnott shares an honest and well-researched discussion of the possible causes of his own depression.