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Medical & Health Issues

Mental Health

Mental Health Services Gateway Grampians Region

Grampians Medicare Local has launched a Mental Health Services Gateway on their website, a mental health first for the Grampians region.

This gateway is the the 'go to place' for the community to find the right mental health services in their area. It was developed in response to the needs of the community who reported difficulty in finding relevant mental health services and how to access them.

To access it all you have to do i answer two questions; where are you and who are you? Once you answer these questions the available mental health options are displayed.

Help in the following areas are provided:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Feeling stressed, sad, down or miserable most of the time
  • Losing interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • Feeling very worried or finding it hard to stop worrying
  • Finding it hard to do everyday activities because of worry

The gateway provides information on all mental health problems, ranging from mild to severe. This could include severe depression, panic attacks, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The gateway is found on the Grampians Medicare Local website. Use the Mental Health Services link.



People with a mental illness can be among the most disadvantaged in society, and many confront barriers as a direct result of their illness. Cognitive and communication impairments may pose challenges, while stigma and discriminatory attitudes can be worse than the illness itself. 

Discrimination and stigma can create barriers to recovery for people with mental illness including access to housing, employment and insurance and people often report that fear of stigma and discrimination is a key reason for not seeking help early.

Changing perceptions about mental illness can go a long way towards breaking down some of the barriers that stigma and discrimination creates.


Approximately 20 per cent of the Australian population will experience mental illness in any given year. Services must be improved to meet increasing demands and to ensure that people with a mental illness receive high quality and targeted services.

Getting Help Early for Mental Illness

Don’t ignore warning signs of mental illness in a family member or friend. The sooner the person receives treatment, the better the outcome is likely to be. It will help if you:

  • Encourage the person to see a doctor for an assessment
  • Make an appointment with the doctor yourself to discuss your concerns and find out what can be done (if the person refuses to see a doctor).

Common Reactions to Mental Illness

The distress associated with having a family member with a mental illness may lead to feelings of guilt, anger or shame. Acknowledging these feelings is the first step towards resolving them. It is important to understand that neither you nor the person with the mental illness are to blame for it.

Attitude to Mental Illness

Developing a positive attitude will help you to provide better support for a friend or family member with a mental illness. It will help if you:

  • Find out as much as you can about mental illness, treatment and what services are available in your area
  • Find out if there are any education and training courses for carers that you can attend
  • Recognise and accept that symptoms may come and go, and may vary in severity. Varying levels of support will be required at different times
  • Develop a sense of balance between your own needs and the needs of the person you care for
  • Contact a support group for carers or relatives and friends of people with a mental illness.

Limitations to Dealing With Mental Illness

You should decide what level of support and care you are realistically able to provide. Explain this to the friend or relative with the mental illness, as well as the health professionals involved in their care (for example, the psychiatrist or case manager). This will ensure that the type of support you are unable to provide can be arranged in another way. 

You should also discuss options for future care with health professionals and other family members and friends. This will ensure continuity of care when you are unable to fulfil your role as a carer.

Talk to the doctor or case manager about what types of support are available. For example, the government-sponsored Personal Helpers and Mentors Service (PHaMS) can help the person with their day-to-day life, as well as offering respite care and other support for you.

Planning to Cope With Mental Illness

It is important to encourage a sense of structure in the life of a person severely affected by mental illness. You can develop plans to cope on a day-to-day basis, such as:

  • Develop predictable routines – for example, regular times to get up and eat. Introduce gradual changes to prevent boredom
  • Break tasks into small steps – for example, discuss with the person what steps would help them with daily self-care
  • Try to overcome a lack of motivation – for example, encourage and include the person in activities
  • Allow the person to make decisions – even though it can sometimes be difficult for them to do this and they may keep changing their mind. Try to resist the temptation to make the decision for them.

Dealing with Disturbed Behaviour

Try and discuss strategies with the person and health professionals to deal with:

  • Suicidal thoughts – talk about the thoughts with the person and discuss why they are having them. Suggest things to distract the person from the suicidal thoughts. If the thoughts persist, especially if the person experiences hallucinatory voices that suggest suicide, inform their doctor.
  • ‘Manipulative’ behaviour – for example, where the person with the illness tells one person untrue stories about mistreatment by the others who care for them. Establish whether the behaviour is being used to get extra help and support. Try to involve the person in activities that will make them feel less resentful towards others. Check out the stories before you react.
  • Aggressive or violent behaviour  this may be associated with psychotic symptoms, or alcohol or drug abuse. Involve health professionals promptly. For aggressive behaviour associated with extreme stress, try to develop an atmosphere that is open and relaxed.

Aggressive Behaviour

If someone is persistently aggressive, you should report actual or threatened violence to the treating health professionals (and the police, if necessary) immediately. If you live with someone who is persistently aggressive, seriously consider ways you can live apart. It is very likely that living apart will work out better for both of you.

Effects of Mental Illness on Brothers and Sisters

Mental illness can lead to a variety of emotional effects for brothers and sisters of the affected person. For example, they may feel:

  • Confusion about their sibling’s changed behaviour
  • Embarrassment about being in the affected person’s company
  • Jealous of their parents’ attention
  • Resentment about not being like their peers
  • Fear of developing the mental illness.

How brothers and sisters can help

If your sibling has a mental illness, you can:

  • Talk honestly about your feelings and encourage others in the family to do the same
  • Be active in improving mental health services, for example, through local mental health support groups
  • Avoid making the ill person the axis around which the family revolves
  • Maintain your focus on living and enjoying your own life.

If your sibling has a mental illness, you can’t:

  • Be totally responsible for their welfare
  • Make your sibling behave in a certain way, for example, force them to take their medication
  • Solve all their problems or feel you ought to
  • Lessen the impact of the illness by pretending that it is not there.

Where to Get Help

Things to Remember

  • Neither you nor the person affected by the mental illness are responsible for their condition.
  • It may help to contact a support group for family, friends or carers of people with mental illness.

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