Individual community members can lead the way in addressing the myths and stereotypes associated with mental illness, Mental Health Minister Curtis Pitt said today.
Mr Pitt was addressing the Beyondblue National Stigma Summit in Brisbane.
“Experiencing mental ill-health is a daily challenge faced by many of our family, friends, and other community members,” Mr Pitt said.
“By helping address any of the old, unhelpful and completely innacurate myths around mental illness we create an environment that assists people in their recovery.”
Mr Pitt said National Mental Health Week from 9-15 October was the ideal time for Queenslanders to reflect on how they could update their awareness of mental health issues.
“We know that around 500,000 Queenslanders in any one year – one in five – will experience mental health issues, although more than half of these people won’t seek help,” he said.
“People living with mental ill-health are one of the most marginalised groups in society and for many the disadvantage and exclusion they experience is more disabling than the mental illness it’s self.
“The theme of Mental Health Week is Be Active. Get Connected. Stay Involved. and it’s all about breaking down the barriers around mental health.
“It’s about removing the stigma and engaging with the community, business and industry and saying: ‘it’s OK to say you have a problem’ and ‘there is nothing wrong with asking for help’.
“Little by little here in Queensland we are attempting to break down those attitudes.”
Mr Pitt said the Queensland Government was investing over $1 billion in 2011-12 to support people who experience a mental illness and $8.5 million over four years to reduce stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness.
“This morning the Premier announced the establishment of a new Mental Health Commission.
“It’s a ground breaking move for Queenslanders and will mean improved performance, coordination and transparency in the funding and delivery of mental health services across the state.
“Earlier this week I also joined the Premier and my colleague Minister Wilson in pledging my support to put an end to negative attitudes and discrimination, and encourage everyone to go to www.changeourminds.qld.gov.au to increase your awareness and understanding of living with a mental illness.
“Those experiencing mental ill-health can access treatment – what they can’t do is control how the wider community treats them, that’s why this campaign is so important.
“By making a pledge you will be helping to raise awareness and reduce stigma,” Mr Pitt said.