If you had a bout of violent gastro, would you still get up and go to work wearing your favourite white pencil skirt like bodily fluids weren’t trying to escape your body ? (If that’s not a grabbing opening line, I don’t know what is).
If your well meaning friends told you that all you needed to cure a dislocated shoulder was ‘some sunlight and exercise’, would you join them on a weekend trip of rock climbing and extreme water sports ?
If your eye was gouged out by a ravenous, rabid, roid raging rabbit, would you listen to someone who told you to ‘just get on with it, everyone has sight issues’ ?
If you had an extraordinary combination of the three maladies, would you stay silent because nobody could help you ? Would you stay silent because you were ashamed and fearful of the stigma of being a gastro ridden, eye gouged, shoulder injured person?
Probably not. More likely you would be screaming to anyone who would listen, ‘get me a doctor, I am in extreme pain and I need help’. Because that is how it should be. When you are in pain it should be the natural response to ask for help and feel safe knowing it will be given. Unfortunately this is a struggle for many Australians when it comes to mental health.
This hesitation to seek help for our mental health is a phenomenon I have seen in my own family and social circles. We dismiss our concerns as not being ‘serious enough’ for professional help, we fear reactions from our friends/family/colleagues if they knew we were seeing a psychologist, and we worry that therapy is too expensive to afford (if it is even readily available). In Australia the average cost of a 60 minute therapy session with a psychologist ranges from $130-$180. While Medicare does lessen this cost with the ‘Mental Health Treatment Plan’, an initiative subsiding the cost of 10 initial psychology sessions to around $80-90, therapy is often an ongoing process that can take months or even years. For lower income earners, artists and students access to quality, ongoing mental healthcare is not affordable or sustainable.
Non for profit organisations like Headspace work to prevent at risk young people from falling through these cracks in the healthcare system. However, new Government funding models to youth based health services such as Headspace and The Butterfly Foundation threaten the future of this life saving support.
Our mental healthcare system is in need of a change if it is to meet the growing needs of Australian’s beginning to enter the mental health conversation. It is this need for reform to our mental healthcare system that inspired me to choose psychology as my second degree with a Bachelor of Laws. It is my passion to one day work in mental health policy, speaking up to Government to develop legislative standards and commitments to better meet the needs of our community.
As well as providing a bit of respite to some of my drier law subjects, choosing psychology as my second degree has allowed me to focus my legal studies with psychological principals, in a study format that is tailored to a career that I find interest and passion in.