Mental illness hurts our economy – it’s time companies got proactive

Published by:

By John Mendoza, University of Sydney 

Mental health disorders are the greatest contributor to the burden of disability and the third largest contributor to the burden of disease after all cancers and all cardio-vascular diseases. But unlike the progress we have made over the past 30 years in both cancer and CVD, life expectancy for people with severe mental illnesses has not improved nor has their participation in employment.

At least one in five Australians will experience a mental illness every year. Nearly half (45%) of all Australians will experience at least one episode of mental illness in their lifetime. Among younger Australians, 16-25, the prevalence of mental illness in any 12-month period is 28%. Around 600,000 adults have severe disability due to mental illness and another 750,000 moderate levels of disability. These people make up the largest groups of Disability Support Pension recipients and long-term unemployed.

Respected economist, Nicholas Gruen, reported in 2013 the estimated total costs of mental illness had reached a staggering A$190 billion or 12% of GDP – more than 50% above the next highest health cost, obesity. It’s estimated that 19 million absentee days per year are attributable to mental illness across Australia.

Despite this serious drag on our productivity, we invest just 7% of all healthcare spending and just 8% of medical research funds in mental health care and research. As former Australian of the Year, Patrick McGorry has frequently said, “We are simply way off scale when it comes to investing in mental health”.

The good news

Fortunately:

  • some mental illnesses are preventable
  • the severity, impact and duration of many mental illnesses can be reduced if we get help early
  • the overwhelming majority of people with a mental illness will recover when provided with evidence based care and support
  • the available treatments are getting better
  • workplaces can implement strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing, and
  • people with a mental illness can and do work productively.

Given our ageing workforce, it is in Australia’s national interest to find ways to boost productivity, ensure there are not barriers to employment for people with a mental illness and implement positive workplace strategies to both retain the existing workforce and maximise productivity.

We know that work can be therapeutic for people with a mental illness. There is strong evidence to show that a positive workplace environment and a well designed job assists in recovery in addition to reducing the cost of absenteeism.

The impact of a “bad job”

Research by the Australian National University points to the damaging effect of a “bad job”, which is defined as one with low autonomy, high repetition and poor management.

These jobs can often be more damaging to one’s mental health and well-being than having no job at all. When you add a lack of understanding, bullying or judgement, the effects multiply dramatically.

More than posters

While displaying posters and embedding messages about mental health and well-being can help support those with a mental illness or encourage all employees to take action to be mentally healthy, the most effective mental health and well-being strategies involve integrated and systemic initiatives.

The include:

  1. Building a clear picture of the risk – the current mental well-being of the workforce, the workplace culture, policies and procedures and environmental risks
  2. Engaging the leadership, staff and other key stakeholders to plan a better future – a blueprint for change
  3. Integrated learning and development initiatives to ensure leaders and staff build their personal and group resilience, have the skills to complete current roles and act to include others appropriately
  4. Reviewing existing policies and procedures to facilitate effective promotion and management of mental health and well-being, including recruitment and return to work, and
  5. Continuous improvement through measuring, evaluating and reporting on progress and workforce mental health and well-being status.

Mental health and productivity are linked

Regrettably too few workplaces in Australia have embraced these initiatives. Too few Australian workplaces are hiring and retaining those with a mental illness. This has to change and if it does change, it will provide a significant productivity boost to the nation just when we need it most.

I recently attended a forum in the US involving government, Defence, large and medium enterprises, researchers and service providers. Major US corporations such as tw telecom, US Postal and Union Pacific all demonstrated their efforts to reduce the impact of mental illness and in particular suicide within their workforces. What was most impressive was the sophistication of the strategies deployed – it was more than feel good – but an integrated suite of strategies to address leadership, workplace culture, employment policy and practices and mental health promotion programs.

While we are starting to see good evidence of programs in the major construction industry in Queensland and NSW resulting in fewer suicides, we do not have enough major Australian corporations or government agencies demonstrating a strategic and sustained focus on mental health and productivity. As for our governments recognising this opportunity, regrettably this is still a work in progress.

The ConversationJohn Mendoza is a Director of ConNetica Consulting and an Adj. Professor Health and Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast and Adj Associate Professor with the Brain and Mind Research Institute at the University of Sydney.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

ABC’s Mental As … it’s OK to laugh about mental health

Published by:

By Fincina Hopgood, University of Melbourne

So what’s funny about mental illness? Very little. It can be hard to smile, let alone laugh, when every day feels like a wet blanket. When someone makes a joke about mental illness, it often trivialises and dismisses another person’s suffering, revealing how much fear, taboo and misinformation surround the issue. In this context, laughing at mental illness acts as a defence mechanism, a nervous response that protects one person from empathising with another’s pain and anguish.

Many comedians, however, such as Stephen Fry in the UK and Josh Thomas and Felicity Ward in Australia, have become advocates for using humour as a way of engaging people in a discussion about mental illness.

To coincide with Mental Health Week (October 5-12), the ABC has been running Mental As …: “the biggest ever cross-platform programming event conducted by the ABC.“ This involves a range of programming and content across TV, radio, online and mobile as well as fundraising events including an art auction and a two-hour, live TV variety show Friday Night Crack Up, featuring personalities from across the major TV networks. The aim of Mental As … is “to help kick-start a national conversation about mental health across the wider community”.

That national conversation is one that involves a lot of laughs. A distinguishing feature of the Mental As … TV schedule this week has been the high-profile, flagship comedies that deal with the topic. These include the documentary Felicity’s Mental Mission, the short film Timothy, Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me, the return of the Agony Aunts and Uncles in The Agony of the Mind and, of course, Friday Night Crack Up.

According to ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott, the ABC:

has an important role in not only reporting national issues but also in leading discussion, debate and community awareness on the issues and challenges affecting Australians. Mental health is a significant matter affecting many Australians and the ABC would like to engage in a national discussion about this complex and wide-reaching topic.

It is heartening to see our national broadcaster taking the lead on the issue of mental health in such a sustained, in-depth way, exploring it from a range of angles and addressing a variety of audience demographics.

Cracking jokes about cracking up

As Canadian comedian David Granirer puts it: “humour can be a powerful form of therapy as well as being a taboo buster.” His organisation, Stand Up for Mental Health runs programmes that teach stand-up comedy to people with mental illness as a way of building self-esteem, and aims to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Closer to home, Brisbane comedian Mark McConville has established Living with Laughter , a not-for-profit organisation that works with schools and workplaces with the aim to reduce societal stress, depression and suicide by making people laugh. As New Zealand comedian Irene Pink observes:

humour has an ability to reach lots of different types of people and is a good tool to open up conversation. People will respond and talk about [mental illness] as it is no longer fearful.

For some comedians with an experience of mental illness, this involves reclaiming stigmatising language – words such as nutter, crazy, loony, and mad – for themselves. Mike King from The Nutters Club radio show says:

we’re taking back some of the language, taking the bullets away from others and reclaiming it as our own.

While some may feel this language is inappropriate, the consensus among the mental health community is that it’s not about the humour or the language used. Ultimately what matters is the attitude towards people with a lived experience of mental illness. So when it comes to comedy and mental illness, we need to ask who is telling the jokes and for what purpose.

A week of laughs

Comedy and mental health on the ABC has already been buttressed by season two of comedian Josh Thomas’ award-winning, semi-autobiographical series Please Like Me, which is based on his experiences caring for his mother with bipolar disorder (currently screening on ABC2 every Tuesday night). That was consolidated by his appearance this week on Q&A, on a panel dedicated to discussing mental health in rural and regional Australia.

Season 2 trailer for Please Like Me.

 

With the media focusing on fellow panelist Bob Katter’s refusal to acknowledge mental health issues facing the GLBTI community in rural and regional Australia, our attention has been taken away from what was otherwise a constructive dialogue around mental health. One of the questions posed to the Q&A panel asked them to reflect upon the role of comedy in dealing with mental health issues – does humour help or hinder?
Thomas acknowledged:

it’s really hard. […] When I’m writing comedy around mental health, you don’t what to sound like you’re making fun of depressed people and I hope I’ve never done that […] Surely if you’re fighting depression laughter is a good tool.

On this issue, at least, Katter was in agreement with Thomas on the value of humour as a coping strategy; Katter went on to extol the virtues for stress relief of having a few beers and swapping jokes with some mates at the pub.

Humour can also be used as a tool to combat stigma, as panelist Jennifer Bowers pointed out. As Head of the Australian Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, Bowers has worked extensively with communities in the mining, farming and resource sectors. She commented:

what I’ve learnt a lot is […] the way of engaging people is through humour, it is through music, it is through other ways and it does break down the stigma because I find that they’re working in really tough environments and if they find that they can actually relate to somebody in some other way, they will actually have a conversation with you. So it really is important to actually break down the stigma by using whatever means of engagement that we can find.

In the documentary Felicity’s Mental Mission, we see Felicity Ward using stand-up comedy as one of her tools of engagement. Her mission is to counter the stigma that surrounds mental illness by sharing her own experience of living with anxiety and by acting as a spokesperson for Mental Health Australia’s Promises campaign, which encourages people to make a public commitment to mental health. In extracts from her stand-up show, we see Ward making jokes – often at her own expense – and proposing “a mental health utopia” in which workplaces would be as accepting and tolerant of mental health issues as any other physical illness.

Trailer for Felicity’s Mental Mission.

 

The documentary also shows Ward in a more serious mode, interviewing fellow comedian Celia Pacquola, singer-songwriter Missy Higgins and rapper 360 about their lived experiences of depression and anxiety. The documentary balances light and dark by cutting between Ward’s stand-up routine and her sensitive, heartfelt interviews. Felicity’s Mental Mission demonstrates how comedy can be used to relax the audience, to overcome our resistance or reluctance to engage with mental health issues and to encourage us to empathise with stories that we might otherwise not want to hear.

Other TV programs in the Mental As schedule bringing a lighter touch to the complex issue of mental illness include the short film Timothy and a special one-off episode of Adam Zwar’s Agony series called The Agony of the Mind.

Timothy fully embraces the comedic potential of mental ill health by giving its star, Stephen Curry, licence to engage in a range of absurd and inappropriate acts, from talking to a porcelain figurine as if it were an intercom to peeing in a pot plant. Curry plays the titular protagonist, a former corporate high flyer who has moved back in with his parents, played by Denise Scott and Peter Rowsthorn, after suffering a mental breakdown.

Timothy met with a mixed reception on social media, with some viewers finding it patronising and offensive, while others proclaimed its brilliance. Whatever its failings, it should be commended for shining a light on the dilemmas faced by carers in the mental health recovery journey.

In The Agony of the Mind, a familiar gathering of Agony Aunts and Uncles – Julia Zemiro, Dave O’Neil, Yumi Stynes – are joined by some new faces – Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Jack Charles, Pat McGorry – to share their vulnerabilities and self-deprecating tales in response to questions such as “Are you happy?” and “How do you cope with stress?”

This approach helps to broaden the conversation about mental health beyond the medical model and encourages a holistic approach towards understanding how we can be responsible for our mental wellbeing.

Is Mental As … enough?

It remains to be seen what impact ABC’s Mental As initiative will have, beyond the initial flurry of media coverage and awareness raising.

Talk, give, seek is the motto for Mental As…
ABC Publicity

 

As Erin Stewart observes, we need to be cautious in our assessment of mental health campaigns that risk being superficial in their treatment of a complex issue. But ABC’s Mental As seeks to go beyond awareness raising through its fundraising partnership with the Society for Mental Health Research. The constant mantra on the website and twitter feed is “talk, give, seek”.

At the time of writing, ABC’s Mental As had raised nearly A$87,000, a figure which will no doubt grow after Friday Night Crack Up goes to air.

A key strategy in the success of this initiative so far has been the ABC’s willingness to use comedy to shine a light on an issue that for too long has been kept in the dark. In terms of mental health awareness, humour is our ally, not the enemy. Because, as Josh Thomas observed on Q&A: “If you bore the shit out of people they’re not going to listen.”

The ConversationFincina Hopgood does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Rural mental illness does not discriminate

Published by:

Depression

There are some extra struggles for women with mental illness in rural areas.

Depression, anxiety and suicide in rural areas is not confined to males

When we think of mental health issues such as depression and suicide in rural, remote and regional Australia, perhaps the tendency is to immediately think of men and young people.

But women in rural Australia suffer from mental health issues too.

One clinical psychologist says often the expectations on women to hold it all together are greater than those on men.

Dr Lisa Patterson-Kane is based in Walcha in northern NSW but does all her consulting online helping women from rural and remote areas across the country.

She says isolation, exhaustion and post natal depression are some of the most common causes of mental health issues among rural women.

‘There’s this expected stoicism. There is a huge amount of pressure on women to keep it together. In many situations it’s the women who are often holding the family together and if a woman can’t hold it together the ripples are felt throughout the family,’ Dr Patterson-Kane said.

Read the full story presented by Cameron Wilson, ABC Bush Telegraph, 10 October 2014


 

header14

The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

Consumers and practitioners speaking as one voice for social change in rural and remote communities

Published by:

header14

The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

Trudy

Trudy Atkinson, CQ University

“Walking the wire: a lived experience academic’s perspective on consumers and practitioners speaking as one voice to bring about social change in rural and remote communities”

Mental health in rural and remote areas of Australia is confronted with the challenge of speaking as one voice: consumer-carer-practitioner through the conceptual lens of a recovery and peer support approach.

The new agenda for mental health care delivery is about going beyond “tokenistic partnerships” and “collaborative engagement”, towards a unified voice which facilitates community awareness and social change. This requires all key stakeholders to be thinking outside the box in developing innovative and authentic initiatives that challenge the status quo about what constitutes quality holistic, person-centred healthcare delivery.

This paper will be presented at the 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium, it will explore existing barriers to healthcare reform in rural and remote communities, and posit a different view of the requirements needed to meet the challenges of change in a sustainable manner that addresses the dynamic and ever-changing needs of contemporary mental health consumers.

Join Trudy Atkinson from CQ University as she presents from an academic’s perspective on consumers and practitioners speaking as one voice to bring about social change in rural and remote communities.

Secure your place at this year’s Symposium, hear from Trudy and over 70 other presenters. View the full program or register at conference website.

Glove Box Guide to Mental Health

Published by:

The Land

Glove Box Guide to Mental Health (The Land)

NSW Farmers launch Glove Box Guide to Mental Health

NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson has launched a new Glove Box Guide to Mental Health at the association’s head office in St Leonards.

“The Glove Box Guide is a great initiative for getting the word around on what assistance is out there for people in rural and regional areas,” Ms Simson said.

“That’s why NSW Farmers is a proud sponsor of the guide.

“The latest research from the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health tells us that while rural and remote Australia faces a range of barriers to mental health care, attitudinal barriers are the most significant.”

The Glove Box Guide was launched at a NSW Rural Mental Health Network meeting, which brought together a range of agencies and organisations to discuss mental health initiatives and better ways of working together.

“The issue of isolation in particular was raised by the NSW Rural Mental Health Network who noted the importance of the right type of help being available in the right geographical location as well as at the right time,” Ms Simson said. “This is part of the reason why NSW Farmers is calling on the government to reinstate maps highlighting drought-affected areas.”

“These maps would help agencies who have been funded to provide services as a result of the drought to effectively allocate their resources to the areas most in need.”

“Without simple tools such as a map of areas in and out of drought, health care providers are relying on anecdotal evidence rather than fact to allocate their resources.

“Recognition of a problem is often a difficult first step. However, the more effectively agencies can allocate their resources to those in need the more likely those in need will accept help.”

To read the full story by Narromine News, 8 October 2014.


header14
The 
6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

ABC TV Changing Minds

Published by:

Tonight ABC TV are airing a three-part documentary series entitled ‘Changing Minds’ for Mental Health Week 2014.

The Liverpool Hospital gave ABC TV unprecedented access to one of the business mental health units in the country for their documentary series Changing Minds.

Ep 1: Meet Patrick the high flying IT specialist was admitted after a hitching a ride on the bull bar of a truck. 

Airs October 7, 8 and 9 check your local program guide.

National Mental Health Awareness Week 2014

Published by:

mhw_homepage

This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week, from 5 – 12 October 2014 people across Australia are invited to help raise awareness about mental health.

This week provides crucial opportunities for the Australian community, both industry and general public to promote, support and encouraging people to maximise their health potential in particular emotional & social well-being.

This year’s Mental Health Week theme is Celebrate, Connect, Grow.

The Mental Health Commission are encouraging people to celebrate the positive events in your life, connect with others by paying attention to your close relationships and grow by expanding your horizons and trying something new.


header14

The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

Aboriginal gambling: a question of addiction or resource redistribution?

Published by:

By Martin Young; Bruce Doran, Australian National University, and Francis Markham, Australian National University

“Aboriginal gambling” has become something of a hot-button issue in recent years. A number of academic research articles have documented the “risk factors” for Aboriginal people that increase their likelihood of develop gambling problems – enough to justify a recent overview paper by the Centre for Gambling Education and Research at Southern Cross University.

Governments have not been lax in responding to the perceived evils of Aboriginal gambling. Gambling was one of four goods and services that the 2007 Northern Territory Intervention explicitly banned for the purposes of income management. Police in one remote NT community reportedly posted notices stating that it is an offence to gamble with cards, or even to be present at a card circle.

While gambling may be associated with many negative impacts for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and communities alike, it is easy to suggest that gambling is just one more problem associated with “dysfunctional” remote communities that need to be “normalised” and brought into line with white mainstream expectations.

Yet accounts of Aboriginal card games in remote communities offer a different perspective, one that reveals complexity and belonging within local social processes. For example, in a 1985 study, ANU anthropologist Jon Altman reported that card circles played an important structural role in the community.

This positive social and economic role has been noted by subsequent studies. Card games have the potential to circulate money among kin in a generally positive way to enhance equality, social cohesion and the ability to accumulate resources for expensive purchases.


A sign posted at Maningrida Airport, cracking down on card circles.
Christie et al.

When poker machines are added to the mix, gambling resources are redistributed in a completely different way. As the “house always wins” with pokie gambling, the net effect is a transfer of resources out of remote communities and into the casinos and other pokie venues. As such, pokie venues in the NT have been demonstrated to be sites of economic exploitation, which redistribute resources from the poorest in society to governments and gambling businesses with remarkable efficiency.

The catchment of Lasseters Hotel Casino at Alice Springs, for example, spans over 800 kilometres and draws most of the Aboriginal communities of Central Australia into its orbit. The monies harvested flow to the Malaysian-owned Lasseters Corporation, with taxation receipts going to the NT government in Darwin.

Regardless, casinos are increasingly popular among Aboriginal people in the NT, in part because they provide a more welcoming environment than other public spaces. In both Alice Springs and Darwin, occupation by Aboriginal people of sites of consumption such as public shopping malls is highly regulated and subject to discriminatory policing.

The card games that used to occur in public space have now been largely quashed, through either redevelopment or regulations that allow police or council rangers to “move on” gamblers in public areas.

In this context, commercial gambling spaces (such as pubs, clubs and casinos) have emerged as one of the few quasi-public spaces for Aboriginal social inclusion. Pokie venues serve specific social needs by providing a space in which cash and company can circulate in an exciting, comfortable and secure air-conditioned environment.

It was these positive, enjoyable aspects of the casino space that Aboriginal participants in our Alice Springs research study emphasised.

So, what then is the problem of Aboriginal gambling in the NT? Do we need to focus on gambling addicts and find ways to curb their behaviour (as per the NT Intervention)? Or do we look to try to mitigate the ways in which pokie venues exacerbate the economic impoverishment already experienced by remote communities? We argue for the latter.

One simple idea may be to give Aboriginal people more of the profits from gambling venues. This already happens in the United States, where in 2010-11, over 200 Indian nations owned 421 casinos, raising more than US$27 billion in revenue.

Indian casinos have succeeded in substantially raising living standards for some Native American groups where governments have failed. However, these casinos have only been possible in the United States because Indian land is exempted from the jurisdiction of state legislatures, a situation that is difficult to imagine in Australia.

In Canada, however, successful lobbying by First Nations paved the way for the establishment of profitable Aboriginal-owned casinos in almost every Canadian province, without recourse to sovereign rights.

Rather than redistributing funds away from Indigenous communities – as is the case with casinos in Australia – the development of “tribal casinos” has been the most successful form of Indigenous economic development in the United States. Profits from casinos have benefited community development and are directed by Indian nations themselves towards locally determined goals.

Skycity Casino in Darwin is a socially inclusive and economically exploitative quasi-public space.
Bruce Doran

In an era of “evidence-based policy” and hand-wringing about remote economic development, we might expect policy experts and governments to be keenly discussing the American model. But as the University of Queensland’s Fiona Nicoll points out:

… the situation in Australia could not be more different … Indigenous people are rarely imagined as potential owners or as direct beneficiaries of gambling revenue and the issues raised by gambling businesses are almost always considered in relation to consumption.

A less radical alternative is to give Aboriginal groups more control over individual gambling venues. While not providing for the same level of economic development, local ownership and control of Aboriginal pokie machine venues in the NT may provide a feasible opportunity to mitigate the regressive political economy of poker machine gambling.

Local ownership and control might allow for the positive aspects of card gambling – in terms of the accumulation of funds – to be reimagined in community terms. Profits could be used for purposes decided by the community itself.

At the same time, local ownership would retain the attractive features of poker machine venues: their ability to provide exciting, welcoming and comfortable quasi-public spaces in towns with few alternatives.

Given that Aboriginal people already support some poker machine venues financially but realise none of the profits, a change in ownership would do little additional harm and would return funds to the communities from which they were extracted.

Aboriginal gambling venues would not be a silver bullet to eliminate all the negative consequences of pokie gambling for Aboriginal people. For individual gamblers, it would continue to be associated with the same harms associated with existing venues.

However, what an Aboriginal-controlled gambling venue would provide is some measure of local control over the use of gambling losses, and the ability to institute harm-minimisation measures that are culturally appropriate to Aboriginal ways of gambling.

Essentially, there should be a transfer of responsibility for gambling to local groups, both in terms of its financial benefits and its associated harms. The alternative – to simply do nothing – will merely continue to see gambling funds siphoned away from Aboriginal communities in the NT.


This is part two of a two-part feature on Indigenous and remote gambling in Australia. You can read part one here.

The Conversation

This article draws on a recent chapter by the authors: Young, M., Markham, F. and Doran, B. (2013) Gambling Spaces and the Paradox of Aboriginal Social Inclusion. In “In Black and White: Australians all at the Crossroads”, R. Craven, A. Dillon and N. Parbury, eds., pp. 275-286. University of Western Sydney: Centre for Positive Psychology Education.

Martin Young is the lead investigator on ARC Linkages Project LP0990584: Gambling-Related Harm in Northern Australia. In addition to his SCU position, he is an Honorary Fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, and a Visiting Fellow, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU.

Bruce Doran was part of a research team that was given funding from Australian Research Council for a project looking at remote area gambling impacts (ARC Linkages Project LP0990584: Gambling-Related Harm in Northern Australia).

Francis Markham does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Special populations and addictions will be discussed at Addiction2015 conference.

Are anabolic steroids addictive?

Published by:

Common signs of addiction include cravings for the drug, requiring more drug to get the same effect, and withdrawal symptoms should the drug be stopped. These are all behaviours that can apply to anabolic steroids.

The following is a statement from the National Institute of Drug Abuse concerning anabolic steroids:

“An undetermined percentage of steroid abusers may become addicted to the drugs, as evidenced by their continued abuse despite physical problems and negative effects on social relations. Also, steroid abusers typically spend large amounts of time and money obtaining the drugs, which is another indication that they may be addicted. Individuals who abuse steroids can experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking steroids, such as mood swings, fatigue, restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, reduced sex drive, and steroid cravings. The most dangerous of the withdrawal symptoms is depression, because it sometimes leads to suicide attempts. If left untreated, some depressive symptoms associated with anabolic steroid withdrawal have been known to persist for a year or more after the abuser stops taking the drugs.”

 What are the psychological and physical side effects of anabolic steroid abuse?

 The complications of anabolic steroid abuse are a result of excess testosterone affecting almost all the organ systems in the body. Some of the effects are reversible and decrease when the drug abuse stops while others are permanent and irreversible. Life-threatening side effects include heart attack and stroke, the risk of forming blood clots (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus), liver cancer, and liver failure.

Infections are a common side effect of steroid abuse because of needle sharing and unsanitary techniques used when injecting the drugs into the skin. These are similar risks to IV drug abusers with increase potential to acquire blood-borne infections such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Skin abscesses may occur at injection sites and may spread to other organs of the body. Endocarditis or an infection of the heart valves is not uncommon.

Psychiatric and psychologic complications include manic behaviour and psychosis including hallucinations and delusions. Aggressive behaviour is common and is often known as “roid rage”

Because the muscle growth can occur quickly, it can cause stress on the tendons that attach the muscle to bone and anabolic steroid abusers are at risk for tendon rupture.

Anabolic steroids can increase bone production, especially in the skull and face. Teeth can splay apart as the maxilla and mandible grow. There can be overgrowth of the forehead giving an “Incredible Hulk” appearance. If adolescent teenagers abuse steroids before they have finished growing, these drugs can prematurely close bone growth plates, leading to short stature.

If used in this way, they can cause serious side effects and addiction.

Like many other substances, anabolic steroids are addictive. This means you can crave the drug, require more to get the same effect and have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking them.

A person who is addicted to anabolic steroids will continue using them despite experiencing unpleasant physical side effects.

When doctors prescribe steroid medication, they always advise coming off the medication slowly, by gradually reducing the dose. Coming off anabolic steroids suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms that include: depression and apathy; feelings of anxiety; difficulty concentrating; insomnia; anorexia; decreased sex drive; fatigue (extreme tiredness); headachesmuscle and joint pain.

Anabolic Steroid Addictions will be addressed at the Australian and New Zealand Addiction Conference. Addiction 2015 will be held on the 5-6 March 2015 at Outriggers Gold Coast. Addiction 2015 will be hosted by the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association (ANZMH). The Conference is for Addiction treatment professionals, care clinicians, researchers and academics. The Call for Abstracts is open and will close on the 21 November 2014.

addiction_conference_bannerFor more information visit the website www.addictionaustralia.org.au and contact the Secretariat by email: secretariat@addictionuaustralia.org.au  Abstracts close: 21st November 2014

Incorporating Evidence Based e-Mental Health Resources into Primary Care

Published by:

header14

The 6th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium theme, The Practitioner’s Voice, seeks to give voice to practitioners who are faced with these challenges on a regular basis. Be a part of the discussion by registering for the symposium to be held 12-14 November 2014 at the Commercial Club Albury.

Jan Orman

Dr Jan Orman, GP Services Consultant from Black Dog Institute

“Incorporating Evidence Based e-Mental Health Resources into Primary Care”

Over the last two decades the internet has provided a platform for the development of many effective mental health interventions. These programs have proved useful tools in primary care, especially in rural and remote areas where sufferers cannot always access the specialised face-to-face care they need.

Unfortunately the uptake of e-Mental Health has not been rapid. Part of the problem seems to be that GPs have not been given the information they need about the programs in order to use them effectively, or to understand how to incorporate them into existing work practices.

Evidence supporting the use of a selection of Australian e-Mental Health resources will be discussed by Dr Jan Orman, GP Services Consultant from Black Dog Institute. Various programs available in Australia will be demonstrated using videos, slides and internet links.

For more details about this presentation or to view the full program please visit the Symposium website.