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Monday, 31 October 2016

Australia - the lucky country?

Please note there is discussion that may trigger distress. If at risk of depression or been a victim of sexual assault, don't bother reading or if fragile, please always reach out for help. Lifeline 13 11 14  (or 000 in an emergency). Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636, Reach Out , Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467, 1800Respect  or NSW Rape Crisis Centre 1800 424 017.

I still tend to think of us, Australians, as a happy go lucky people, very laidback and full of fun. In the last month, I've read three statistics that have made me question this belief. The three were not related - once came from a book on education, another from an article on comedy and I've forgotten where I read the third but lumped together, it's quite a disturbing portrait.

We (Australia) have the highest rate of reported sexual assault (presuming per capita), the highest per capita prescriptions for anti depressants, and the highest rate of suicide (also presuming per capitia) in the world.

We live in an affluent society, there is welfare and in theory a safety net. We have good weather, with plenty of sunshine. We are not at war. I would have thought our violent crime was low (but evidently I was wrong, depending on your definition of violent crime, as I would count sexual assault as a violent crime, but maybe it just means murder?). It is not a crime to be in the LBGTQI community - though I acknowledge we clearly are more backward in marriage equality than we should be, I would have thought most people come out to acceptance rather than thrown out of home etc (but maybe I'm naive?). We have relatively low unemployment. We have government supported healthcare (though shame on you Liberal Government for pulling that apart - and in view of this post, especially in the area of mental health).

So what is going wrong?

And more importantly, how do we fix it?

There are plenty of ad campaigns on mental health and violence against women. The government clearly recognises there is a problem. But as with all things, the best way to fix a problem is to change the environment so the outcome is different. Treat the cause, not the symptoms.

I don't have the answers, I am currently reading a number of books to try and understand what I see as a pandemic of Anxiety in young people (teens).  Where have we gone wrong? When did we stop being the happy people and become the nation that is limping through life, trying to keep it together? 

I'm after any feedback or ideas you may have. Please feel free to leave your opinion, even if not based in science or research.

I believe we can change this. I believe it is our responsibility to do so. As always, we can do better, we must do better.

A very incomplete post for #MummyMondays and #OpenSlather




16 comments:

  1. That question right there - When did we stop being the happy people and become the nation that is limping through life, trying to keep it together? - that's the question that will stick with me all day today.

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  2. Those stats are shocking and hard to believe for a country like Australia. I don't know what the answer is, but we have to make a change.

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  3. Those stats are truly alarming. I had no idea and like Renee find it hard to believe.

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  4. I have no idea either but it seems the more we have, the more we want and the more we feel like we dot have.

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  5. I've lived most of my life in the UK, in London, and based on personal experience, living in Australia is almost utopian in comparison, so I'm really shocked about those stats. Scary stuff!

    I'm with you on the anxiety - and I think it's a global phenomenon. When I was teaching in primary school, the first and only kid I ever met with anxiety was 6 and that was about 10 years ago. Now, anxiety seems to be at epidemic proportions for both adults and kids. I often question this but can never find the answers to a) why this is so and b) what can we do to make it better? I totally need a magic wand!

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    1. I went to a concert in April and the average convert goer was a 15 year old girl and I reckon 10% left the gig BEFORE the band came on, overwhelmed in tears due to social anxiety. I've never seen anything like it. It was in Melbourne so I told my kid to ask their friend who lives there to come with us and she said no because she didn't like to be around crowds (due to social anxiety). I thought how do I feel like I'm sharing an experience at a hip hop concert, when we all move in unison (even tho I clearly am the old lady in the crowd) and they all feel overwhelmed at not fitting in, even tho they're with their tribe? I've been researching ever since...

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  6. Wow! Those statistics are horrific! I had no idea! Given everything Australia has going for it I would not have expected those stats! The big hard question is what can we all do to change these stats around.

    Ingrid
    http://www.fabulousandfunlife.blogspot.com.au

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  7. Those statistics are pretty scary! I don't have any answers, plenty of theories. One of which, in regards to the question of anxiety, is, considering the rates of anxiety have risen since the inception of "social" media, particularly amongst young people, I do wonder if there is a relationship between the two. I couldn't imagine going through my teen years with things like FB and IG around and I hate to think how it will be for my girls. Before, you could go to school and deal with all of the crap, but then you went home and you were able to switch off from it all. Now the crap follows them home via social media and I wonder if it contributes to the problem? Obviously there is no scientific background to my theory, but it's something I do ponder.

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    1. I also think that's part of it - they're constantly sold to/advertised and a by product of this is they feel they are never good enough. I know girls who will ring and say 'I just put a photo up on Instagram and it needs more likes, can you like it?' and yesterday I heard a story of a young teen who has timed all her photos and posts to go live when most people are on, to get the most traction. A very savvy digital marketer indeed but is it good to have your headspace there when it's yourself image?

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  8. Kindness goes a long way. I believe that children in schools should learn to show kindness and that will relieve a lot of anxiety. The younger they begin learning kindness, the easier it is to encourage it as they get older. It's interesting, but when you are kind to someone, you both feel better. I've been sharing a children's book on bullying at Amanda's school with the grade 2's to 5's. I've been given the library period and each class has theirs at a different time. So far the message has been well received. I'm donating a few copies to their library too and it has a resource at the back for kids, parents, and teachers. The books were given to me by the author. Wishing you all the best on your journey with the things you discussed.

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  9. The problem with awareness raising about mental illness and violence against women is that there is not the funding to actually support people who are diagnosed with a mental illness or who try to flee domestic violence. So on the one hand you have an increase in reported incidents but on the other hand funding is either stagnant or decreasing.

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    1. That's actually a very good point. They spend money on the ads for domestic violence but shut down all the shelters. I need to think about this a little more.

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  10. My huge comment got lost :/
    Such an interesting piece. Australia is a country that makes me feel ashamed these days. Our treatment of refugees is appalling.
    Yes, there are anxiety issues everywhere. I believe social media is to blame too, for a large part of it.

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  11. Being from the states I am pretty surprised at these stats. I would have thought that we led these dismal categories.

    #mummymomndays

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    1. You have more, but there's more of you. And I think you have a lot of black market (ordered online etc) anti-depressant users...I was really surprised and confused when I first read them too. Something is definitely amiss...

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  12. I see in the instance of roads, there is plenty of money for ads, but gee there are lots of roads around that are in a dismal state and in urgent need for repair.
    I think the states and federal government do a lot of buck passing and not enough action.
    It is awful that young people are suffering from anxiety, it scares me for the future of my girls, especially the social media environment.

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