All about the mind

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie…

It’s Australia Day today and I am extremely happy and proud this year. Even more than other years. [No it doesn’t have to do with the cricket. For once. Neither does it have to do with me getting citizenship…been busy there but hope to get it sometime this year]

Every Australia Day, an Australian is awarded the Australian of the Year. Steve Waugh has been one (2004). Pat Rafter has been another (2002). So has Mark Taylor (1999…which by the way I find hard to believe!) But this year, in its 50th year, it has gone to someone relatively unknown. Someone who is not involved in climate change or similar trending issues. But someone who has been lobbying in a field that is close to my heart. An area I am passionate about.

The Australian of the Year for 2010 is Professor Patrick McGorry.

Who, I hear you ask.

Well, Professor Patrick McGorry is a psychiatrist who has been lobbying for better treatment for young people with mental health problems. And I for one, am stoked!

Professor McGorry is a psychiatrist who has been advocating early intervention services to assist young people with mental health problems better and thereby prevent outcomes such as suicide. He is also the director of Headspace across the country which is a mental health service for young people between 12 and 24 years of age. [By the way, Headspace is amazing and I’d love to work there someday!] Β 

Hopefully, this means there will be more funding from the Federal and State governments towards youth mental health. It amazes me that the government does not shell out as much money for mental health as it does for say, transport [Sydneysiders will know…I’m referring to the metro!]. The young people of today are the future of tomorrow. And I can tell you first hand, in this day and age, mental health issues are all the more prevalent. Blame it on more knowledge or lack of social support or social contact or too much media exposure…any way you go, the end result is that mental health is a concern. And not much is being done about it. At least not from up above.

The onset of mental health problems seems to be occurring at a younger age. And no, I don’t mean just ADHD or behaviour problems (those are overdiagnosed in my opinion). Kids as young as 5 are being diagnosed with eating disorders. I myself have worked with 7 year olds suffering from generalised anxiety (worries about the future, performance, health, wellbeing of loved ones etc) or performance anxiety. In 1997, depression was present in 3 percent of children and 5 percent of adolescents. That was 13 years ago. I am willing to bet my bottom dollar it has drastically increased.

And as for teenagers, don’t even get me started. I know I have ranted about them in the past. But I actually prefer working with teenagers than the little children. Teenagers go through a lot of shit these days. Bullying is a lot worse than it has ever been. Social support is a lot less. Peer pressure a lot more. Add puberty and raging hormones to the mix and voila! You have one messed up teen. There aren’t enough services out there for young people. Especially economically disadvantaged young people. I can say that because I’ve tried referring some of them and there’s nowhere to go. What people don’t seem to understand is that teenagers also suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, phobias, emotional regulation problems, eating disorders etc. And while it’s easy to tell them to “get over it”, it’s not actually easy for them to do so. They need therapy. They need someone to provide them with strategies. And most importantly, they need someone to listen and normalise what they are going through.

We are always told ‘prevention is better than cure‘. So why don’t we apply this adage to mental health? When it comes to physical health, we generally know what to do or what not to do. But does anyone really know what to do to prevent serious mental health problems? Of course not! Mental health awareness needs to be increased. And we need more individuals like Professor McGorry. And of course, funds from the government wouldn’t hurt!

So once again, I’m extremely happy today. I just wish I had given my citizenship test around November-December (I couldn’t because of work and then the change of jobs…and I’ve had to put it off for a while now) But even without the citizenship, I’m a proud Australian today. I am also a proud health professional today. :p

And if I am able to do even half of what Professor McGorry is doing for young people in my lifetime as a psychologist, I will die happy.Β 

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

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  • Reply
    Gyanban
    January 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Truly commendable effort, on a largely under-rated and oft-ignored subject.!
    Wish there were more of such recognition in India,for the scores of unsung heroes doing their job without any recognition in cash or kind..

  • Reply
    PsychBabbler
    January 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Yes, mental health awareness is so important all across the world. And one thing I like about Australian of the Year is that there is an attempt to present it to non-celebrities and relatively unknown individuals that are doing something great for the country. Beats giving Padmashrees to cricketers and Bollywood stars…

  • Reply
    Shreya
    January 25, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey!!!!! you know theres one thing…every time i read(hear) you talk about Australia…and the very fact that you do it with so much pride, it makes me go all ^.^ cause personally, i LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE the country and you got no idea how envious i am of you πŸ™‚
    you’r shit lucky and deserving πŸ™‚
    one day i want to write about the same thing…while i am out there !!!!!!

    Lots and lots of wishes and love and luck and laughter πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Titaxy
    January 25, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Happy Aussie day to you, PB!

  • Reply
    bluntedges
    January 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    happy australia day πŸ˜€

    have never read this much about psychology before…i could have very well said that i haven’t read about psychology before πŸ˜‰

  • Reply
    Quixotic
    January 25, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    I too was stoked to see Professor McGorry get the gong. I know you are a huge cricket fan, but if I see another sportsman given Australian of the Year I think I’ll scream!!! I love my sport, don’t get me wrong, but I think Australia is in danger of revering these people a bit too much. I also get sick of hearing about our sporting “heroes”… I’m sorry, but heroes are soldiers defending their country, ordinary people who risk their lives to save others, you get the picture.

  • Reply
    PsychBabbler
    January 25, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    Shreya, I’m sure you will achieve your dream of coming here in a few years! It was only a dream for me when I was in college and I’m so grateful for being able to achieve it! And yes, it’s a funny thing but I feel so proud to be part of Australia and cannot wait to get my citizenship…and I’ve never felt an iota of patriotism in all my years in India for India. Hope to see you here some day in the future… πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    PsychBabbler
    January 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Thanks Titaxy! πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    PsychBabbler
    January 25, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Thanks! πŸ™‚ Oh…and if you want to read about psychology, stick around…I do blog a lot about it. πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    PsychBabbler
    January 25, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    Oh as much as I love cricket, I don’t think they are all deserving of this title. Steve Waugh I could understand because he has done a lot beyond cricket in terms of humanitarian work. But Mark Taylor? I was so surprised to see his name up there. I’m with you…definitely prefer heroes in terms of individuals defending our country or people giving their time and energy for others’ well-being.

  • Reply
    Titaxy
    January 26, 2010 at 12:48 am

    i agree with Shreya…your love for the country pours when you start talking about it…the passion you have for Aus will never go unnoticed πŸ˜€

  • Reply
    Bini
    January 26, 2010 at 4:30 am

    I think I might sound repetitive here..but have been catching up on your previous post..Love the pride you have for the country you stay in ..I guess that’s what makes staying away from your home country a more fulfilling experience..Here in CA, US we have so many Indians just cribbing at the same time enjoying the benefits of the state:). Hubby always tells me to appreciate the lil things we enjoy about staying here..life has become so much more pleasant that way..Way to go girl:)

  • Reply
    Smitha
    January 26, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    You know, I was having a similar discussion with a friend of mine. She is a psychiatrist too and she was mentioning the same things you have mentioned here. She was also saying how some people dismiss mental health issues as frivolous or unimportant. Your post says a lot of the same things. It is shocking to know that children as young as 5 are affected.. It must be a proud and happy moment for you! Would love to read more about your line of work.

  • Reply
    Renu
    January 27, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Are you an Indian living in Australia?….if as an Indian you are saying…..and I’ve never felt an iota of patriotism in all my years in India for India….i feel sad..its good to be proud and loyal to be your country of residence but…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 27, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Renu, yes I’m an Indian living in Australia. I have always loved Australia since my teenage years and it’s not just upon coming here that I am proud and loyal to Aus. For some reason, despite being born in India and living there for about 10-15 years, I feel nothing. There has never been any pride for the country. I have despised the culture for its treatment of women. And I have just never been able to feel patriotic. I don’t think it’s a necessity to be patriotic to the country you are born into…I think it’s something you can choose.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I think in India it’s probably dismissed overall, but in countries like Australia while adult mental health does not hold as much of a stigma, child and adolescent does. But the thing is, if you find a teen with say anxiety, and get the appropriate therapy to help them manage, it’s less likely to snowball in adulthood…which some people don’t get. So many parents think that their child will “get over it”. So yeah, I’m hoping now with this award, more attention will be paid to child and adolescent mental health! And I do write about work every now and then… πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 27, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks Shas πŸ™‚ And yep…glad they were sensible in their choice

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 27, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Lol…I always said I was meant to be Aussie! πŸ˜›

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 27, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I think I had the advantage of liking Aus and wanting to be here even before I got here. Don’t get me wrong…I do whinge about govt policies and transport and stuff…but I’m so grateful for being here. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    bookslifenmore
    January 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Hmmm it is really commendable!! In India we have been making fun of National awards, we specialise in giving away to the most undeserving people!! And it is further great to see that other relevant fields & issues are getting recognition!

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 28, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Lol yeah…I saw the nominees for the National awards when browsing through some website. Sachin Tendulkar. Katrina Kaif. Give me a break! I’m sure there’s so many more deserving Indians who work for the well being of others…

  • Reply
    Harini
    January 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I wish we could choose wisely while giving awards. For God’s sake Saif Ali Khan has been honored by giving Padma Shri award… get that. Firstly, what has he done and secondly he was involved in the blackbucks case… and that case hasnt had a conclusion yet. This is a dishonor to the award actually.

    Coming to the topic, I think every neglects problems by just calling them a phase. My friend who was fat was so humiliated that she stopped eating and went under tremendous depression. When she tried to kill herself did people know about her. people think that going to consult a psychiatrist makes you mad. People dont realize the difference.

  • Reply
    Joel
    January 29, 2010 at 5:15 am

    happy aussi day πŸ™‚ .. been lazy and hadnt been readin much .. so been on a reading marathon on ur blog .. phew .. u write a lot .. πŸ˜€ really cool that they gave the award to someone deserving for once and not someone famous !

    on another note .. cool too see u use disqus πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Welcome Harini! SIgh. Yeah I remember the Padmashri awards and actors and cricketers getting them…and I think it’s now at a stage where only actors, cricketers, politicians and business people get them, eh?

    Sorry to hear what your friend had to go through…it’s sad that it needs a drastic measure like that for people to sit up and notice. I wish people would realise the importance of early intervention…it wouldn’t result in so many young people taking their lives or attempting to take their lives…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 29, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Welcome back! It’s been a while. Yes I do write a lot but I must say this month and in Dec I’ve written less than the previous months! πŸ˜› Oh and I’m really liking disqus…especially the threaded comments. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Joel
    January 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    yeah i know .. next step .. i need to complete all those unfinished blogs i
    have in the drafts section .. hehe .. yeah i know .. love disqus .. i love
    the fact that they offer so many connection options .. and the fact that i
    can reply from my email to any comment u make .. is super cool

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 29, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I agree about the ease of responding to comments on disqus as well. Waiting
    for your updates on your blog! πŸ™‚

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  • Reply
    Matthew Parker
    January 29, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Let Australia and your love for Australia prosper !! D

    And don’t get me started on India’s national awards this year !

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    January 29, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you… =)

    Would actually love to hear your take on the national awards… =P

  • Reply
    ani_aset
    February 20, 2010 at 5:27 am

    hey PB god bless you, and give more strength to you for working towards your goal πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Shas
    September 16, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Glad to know that selection committee acted sensible by choosing Prof. Mcgorry rather than give the award to another celebrity.
    Mental health is of utmost important today to survive in the present world. The youngsters today are under tremendous pressure to perform n cope up with the various things.
    Kudos to you for devoting a post on such an imporatnt issue.

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