The saying that has shaped our nation’s carefree attitude is no longer applicable in a world increasingly aware of mental illness investigates One Half of the Two Crazy Youths.
The continuing stigma surrounding mental health in Australia is hindering the success of our Health Services and Programs. We as a nation have a notorious past of prejudice and misconception towards the sufferers, we as a nation have kept outdated stereotypes of what the Aussie bloke is, a man who can’t seek help. We as a nation have raised a generation struggling to deal with many severe mental illnesses due to our refusal to talk about the issue.
The Park Centre for Mental Health Treatment, Research and Education at Wacol is one of the largest, most innovative mental health hospitals in Australia. The research and education conducted there has been met with international recognition and the hospital is a global leader in the research of schizophrenia.
Why then are we still holding onto the old reputation of the institution instead of recognizing its achievements?
Why then has it taken us over a century to, even slightly, reduce the use of the term ‘Goodna Funny Farm’ or the less common ‘Wally World’?
Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum was formed in 1865 and was known for brutal ‘therapies ‘used on its patients including shock therapy, whipping and starvation.
Of course, these horrific practices grew obsolete very quickly and the hospital moved onto caring for its patients rather than torturing them, and yet, the general public looks at the modern establishment with ignorance and the ultimate misconception of the severe measures taken by staff to control the “dangerous” patients.
Our irrational unwillingness to move on and celebrate the outstanding facility in our very own city is due the reluctance from older generations, specifically the Baby Boomers, to let something as immoral as torture slip out of the younger generation’s minds, therefore keeping us in the 19th century when the stigma towards the clinically insane was at its peak.
Even the original name of the hospital, ‘Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum’ is an example of the level of the stigma attached to mental health.
How is it that the rest of the world can acknowledge The Park Centre for Mental Health Treatment, Research and Education and we are still living in a time where the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum is still around?
The answer conforms perfectly to the she’ll be right attitude that we are so proud of. We can’t be bothered to fix other’s problems, even though the consequence may be the destruction of a global reputation.
A report conducted by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of psychiatrists, shows that people living with a mental illness can expect to live between 10-32 years less than the average Australian. Imagine at your premature funeral, the people who turn up, scoff at your early demise, saying you could have lived longer if you had just sucked it up.
This detached way of thinking is exactly why Australians have such a rough, tough attitude that prevents us from truly benefitting from the Health services and Programs to help people suffering these debilitating mental illnesses.
Ask yourself, would the aussie bloke, be first of all, willing to seek help if there ever was something wrong and secondly, would he support a person going through something, and would he be willing to give advice?
Australia’s traditional macho man, the bloke’ bloke, is the guy who sweeps everything under the carpet, who would never admit to having a problem, because having the problem itself is a sign of personal weakness.
There is so much shame and embarrassment surrounding mental illness. The 2012 movie, Mental, is a classic example of a family suffering from the crippling effect of mental illness, particularly the father, who convinces his daughters to keep the mother’s disorder under wraps; proof that stigma still exists, especially towards women, with him famously saying that “This wouldn’t be happening if I had a family of boys… Australian boys would be too busy playing football”
Jan Sardi, scriptwriter of the well-known Australian movie, Shine, spoke to Mindframe, about depicting mental illnesses and the disgrace attached in movies accurately, “Shine is the perfect example of David being stigmatized. The opening scene starts with a complete stranger (David) behaving very strangely in a restaurant, which leads the other characters in the scene to think he’s just ‘crazy’”.
These two movies depict the stereotypical Australian father, the father who isn’t willing to accept change and who isn’t afraid to let their family know that, but will try not to let the public know of the familial problems they are dealing with.
Not the best way to handle the situation considering that SANE Australia has predicted that 45% of all Aussies will experience a mental health disorder during their lifetime.
Imagine then what is looks like through the eyes of an adolescent, with fathers who shy away from the ‘uncomfortable’ topic that is mental health, with fathers who refuse to seek help for their own psychological issues, with fathers who silence pleads of aid from any member of the family.
Through the increase in research in the area of mental health, people have become more aware of the issue, more now than ever before.
Unfortunately, although the awareness for the issue has increased, there are still the sufferers, and there will be more, with the staggering statistic of 45% of Australians predicted to go through a mental illness.
Australia pick up your game. Become more aware. Move on from what used to be. Blokes, help yourselves and help your families. They won’t be right.
Teenagers, lets fix the mistake. The generations before us have successfully ignored the issue long enough. She won’t be right.
Let us be the ones to put an end to the prejudice and preconceptions, the rumours and reports, the misrepresentations and meanders, the silence and the stigma.
Let us be the ones to fight the she’ll be right.
xxx One Half of the Two Crazy Youths