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The importance of Mental Health Workers in Australia

by Chloe Baird
Posted: August 24, 2020

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Have you been reading the news lately? Or have you, like many others, felt the need to disengage from current world events for the time being?

Sometimes, things can begin to feel a little overwhelming. In these strange times, hearing about the ongoing pandemic and other critical world events can make you feel exhausted, anxious, stressed and frustrated. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can also exacerbate a negative state of mind.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Australia hard, and we’re not just talking about the economy and the damage done to businesses and the Australian workforce. It has also taken a toll on the country’s mental health and highlighted the need for qualified Mental Health Workers as people struggle to deal with mental health issues. 

The need for Mental Health Workers 

A recent paper published on mental health care found that there were “increased symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress related to COVID-19” in the general populace. The paper also found that “People with pre-existing mental health disorders have reported increased symptoms and poorer access to services and supports since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

To help, the Federal Government has announced a package of measures to support the mental health of Australians during this time. Part of this package includes extra funding to critical support services such as Lifeline. The Government has also stated that it will expand mental health services across Australia to support those with mental health needs, and to create more jobs for those working in mental health.

The implementation of more telehealth services also seeks to ensure people can continue to access mental health treatment plans. 

The role of Mental Health Workers Group Mental Health Session

The support and help that Mental health Workers can offer in times of crises are invaluable.

A Mental Health Worker’s primary role is to support and help people living with mental illness, substance abuse, and other social problems. There are many different roles available for people working in the mental health sector. 

In these roles, and many others in the mental health sector, you’ll be working directly with vulnerable people who need support and guidance. They could be struggling with higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression brought on by the recent pandemic. Or they could have ongoing issues that they have lived with their entire lives, and are seeking guidance from a professional to help manage them. 

What happens if you don’t seek help for mental illness?

The most common forms of mental illnesses in Australia are anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder. A 2020 report by the Black Dog Institute found that 54% of people living with mental illness in Australia do not seek treatment. 

There are many reasons people don’t seek help if they are living with a mental illness. It could be because they don’t know how to read the warning signs, are in denial, or are too scared or ashamed to seek help. Access can also sometimes be a barrier for people if they are unable to travel, or there are no services nearby. 

However, if left unchecked, there can be a number of negative effects untreated mental illness can have on an individual’s life. 

If left untreated, the mental illness or illnesses a person is suffering from could get worse. So even if that person only has mild symptoms at first, the effects of the illness could get worse over time, which makes it more difficult to treat in the long run. 

From here, there are a number of physical issues that could occur as symptoms or side effects, such as headaches, aches and pains, ulcers and insomnia. On top of this, mental illness can have a ripple effect across other aspects of a person’s social life. They could begin to feel too anxious to leave the house, which could affect their friendships, and could mean that they’re unable to maintain relationships, leading to further feelings of anxiety and depression. 

As you can see, even though it can be nerve-wracking and difficult, seeking treatment for your mental health is incredibly important. 

Signs of mental illness

This is not an exhaustive list, and different people can have different symptoms. But these can be some signs of increased levels of stress: 

  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Swinging between emotional highs and lows
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Aches and pains (tense muscles)
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Significant increase or decrease of appetite
  • Procrastination
  • Insomnia 
  • Fatigue or general lethargy
  • Nervous habits, like tapping feet, wringing hands, nail biting, etc

Are you looking to start a career in mental health?

Counselling Session

These are strange times we live in, which have called for a huge shift in the way we think, act and go about our daily business. The pandemic has had a massive impact on communities around the world, and there are many people who need a little bit of help to get through these difficult times. 

If you’re a caring, compassionate and empathetic person with a true desire to help people improve their mental health and their lives, then you could consider following a career in mental health. 

With a CHC43315 Certificate IV in Mental Health you can work towards a job as a Community Support Worker or Rehabilitation Support Worker. 

To find out more about the mental health courses offered online by Open Colleges, follow the link here. The choices you make today could have a lasting impact on someone’s life tomorrow.  

If you feel like you need to speak to someone about your mental health, you can contact your local GP or get in touch with Lifeline. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14. 

 

Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for OC as a Content and Copywriting Specialist. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their goals through education.

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