Anxiety the most common mental health condition in Australia

Today is World Mental Health Day.


From Beyondblue (Julia Gillard is now the Chair):

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety. In Australia, it is estimated that 45 per cent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.”

One in 14 young Australians aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015.


Beyondblue are now running the Know when anxiety is talking campaign. Excellent info about anxiety; checklist; signs and symptoms; management:


From Black Dog Institute:

20% of Australians will have a mental illness in any year. In Australia, youth 18-24 years old have the highest prevalence of mental illness, with the onset of mental illness typically around mid to late adolescence.


Interesting articles about anxiety from Generation Next:


10 anxiety management strategies:


Finding help:


Understanding anxiety in young people – Prof. Jennie Hudson (Macquarie Uni):


Clicks and likes contributing to a teen anxiety crisis

An increasing dependency on activities associated with the brain’s excitement-pleasure circuitry contributes to rising levels of anxiety and depression in teenagers today.


Young, stressed and depressed

Standardised tests, social media and cyberbullying all contribute to stress for young people.

Work, Society, Youth and Education

Some interesting social info…..


The New Work Smarts: thriving in the New Work Order

This report from the Foundation for Young Australians notes that the way we work is increasingly affected by three key economic drivers – automation, globalisation and flexibility. The research analysed 20 billion hours of work completed by 12 million Australian workers each year to predict the skills and capabilities that will matter most in 2030. “It is predicted that we will, on average, spend 30% more time per week learning skills on the job; spend double the time at work solving problems, spend 41% more time on critical thinking and judgment, and 77% more time using science and mathematics skills; utilise verbal communication and interpersonal skills for 7 hours a week each (up 17 per cent); and develop an entrepreneurial mindset due to having less management (down 26 per cent), less organisational coordination (down 16 per cent) and less teaching (down 10 per cent).”

Interesting articles:


If Australia was a street of 100 households

Interesting stats from the census. 20% baby boomers; 22% Gen Y; 11% Gen Alpha (from 2010). 47% both Aust. born; 34% none Aust. born; 11% one Aust. born. Average house price 11x average full-time earnings.

Australia’s population map and generational profile:

Other interesting visuals and infographics from McCrindle social research group:


Generation Next

Generation Next has excellent resources to protect and enhance the mental health of young people. Subscribe to the newsletter.

Blog – many interesting articles including: Want to rebound from failure?; When to push a child; Working memory boosters for kids.


Generation Next YouTube channel:

Videos include: How to support teens in distress; How can we support someone with a gaming addiction? Encouraging boys to be respectful and caring; How resilient are young people today?


The potential of pro-social media

Generation Next video by Dan Haesler. Social media is not all bad news. What strategies can be used to enhance digital literacy, understanding of the world and even job prospects?


Schools need to slow down

Australian schools are caught up in the cult of speed, driven by NAPLAN reporting and the evidence of improvement. ‘Slow schooling’ is needed to support learning for all. Teachers and school leaders need time to work together to find effective and creative ways of educating hard-to-reach learners, considering carefully the individual interests and aspirations of students. There should be no pressure for quick responses.


Business of addiction: how the games industry is learning from casinos

Video gaming on mobile devices has led to a massive expansion of the games industry. The industry uses psychologists, neuroscientists and marketing experts to turn customers into addicts. The ‘free to play’ (FTP) model allows the majority of players to play for free, while a few players will become addicted and spend huge amounts on extra content. The latest trend is the creation of ‘whales’ – people so addicted to games that they spend their life savings buying in-game content.


RUOK? Day Thursday 8 Sept

RUOK? Day is tomorrow Thursday 8 September and World Suicide Prevention Day is on Sat 10 Sept. We have a display of mental health resources in the library. It’s a great day to check in with someone you care about – students, family, friends and colleagues. And it’s ok to say “No, I’m not ok”.

Inspiring conversations and stories:

World Suicide Prevention Day:


Getting help

 Lifeline 24hr crisis support on 13 11 14. Suicide prevention, crisis support and mental health services.

beyondblue Information about depression to consumers, carers and health professionals.

Black Dog Institute  Information, self-tests and resources about mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

Headspace Support, information and assistance for young people aged 12 to 25 years who are experiencing emotional or mental health issues and/or a substance use issue.

eheadspace A confidential, free and secure space where young people 12 – 25 or their family can chat, email or speak on the phone with a qualified youth mental health professional.

Reachout Support for tough times, wellbeing, toolbox.

e-couch  Self-help modules for depression, general anxiety, social anxiety, relationships, bereavement.

MoodGym Learn cognitive behaviour therapy skills for preventing and coping with depression.

Kids Helpline  24 hour telephone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Ph. 1800 55 1800.

Living is for Everyone (LIFE) Suicide and self-harm prevention resource, dedicated to providing the best available evidence and resources to guide activities aimed at reducing the rate at which people take their lives in Australia.

Mens Line Australia  A telephone support, information and referral service for men. Ph. 1300 78 99 78.

Suicide Prevention Australia   A public health advocate in suicide prevention.

Supportlink StandBy Response Service  A community crisis response service for families, friends and associates who have been bereaved through suicide.


Living Is For Everyone (LIFE)

This Australian Government project is a suicide and self-harm prevention resource.

Excellent links, fact sheets and information:

24 fact sheets:

Brochure: Suicide – worried about someone?

Excellent links to services for helplines, mental health, drugs and alcohol, youth, gender diversity, bereavement:


Good books

More good reads…..


Australian Book Industry Awards 

These awards are decided by industry experts who select the best titles published in Australia each year. Last year the top award for Book of the Year went to the childrens’ book The 52-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. This year’s winners include:

Book of the Year and Biography: Reckoning – Magda Szubanski.

General Non Fiction: Island home – Tim Winton.

Literary Fiction: The other side of the world – Stephanie Bishop.

Book of the Year for Younger Children: The 65-storey treehouse – Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton.

Book of the Year for Older Children: Illuminae – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

Publisher of the Year: Allen & Unwin.

Independent Bookseller of the Year: Readings.


Australian Book Industry Innovation Award

Winner: The Best of Friends Social and Emotional Learning Program. The program is aimed at primary school students, with stories and illustrations by Connah Brecon, Barbara Gonzalez and Lisa Diebold. Topics include making friends, social expectations, compromise, empathy, peacemaking, conflict resolution.

The program is part of Quirky Kid Psychology Clinic

Lots of good fact sheets and info re child psychology and wellbeing:

Books and resources:


7 books to read before they hit the screens

The girl on the train – Paula Hawkins. Last year’s bestselling mystery – a woman watches a couple on the train each morning and one day sees something shocking. Emily Blunt to star. Opens September.

Me before you – Jojo Moyes. A young woman becomes a carer for a young man and their lives are changed forever. Emilia Clarke to star. Opens June.

The light between oceans – M. L. Stedman. The award-winning tale of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who rescue a baby adrift in a boat and raise her as their own, with unforeseen consequences. Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander to star. Opens September.

Inferno – Dan Brown. Symbologist Robert Langdon must decipher codes within Renaissance artworks in order to save the world. Tom Hanks to star. Opens October.

Fantastic beasts and where to find them – J.K.Rowling. Set 70 years before Harry Potter; the adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards. Eddie Redmayne to star. Opens December.

The BFG – Roald Dahl. The adventures of Sophie and the giant will be released as a film in June, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Mark Rylance. Opens July.

Big little lies – Liane Moriarty. The lives of a group of middle class women and their partners start to unravel and many secrets are revealed. The HBO series comes out in 2017, starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

ICT news

Digital Australia Report 2016 (DA16)

The video game industry in Australia is worth over $1 billion a year and sales exceed movie box office receipts. The Australian games industry is growing and video games are being used widely in education, health and ageing. Bond University and IGEA (Interactive Games & Entertainment Assoc.) surveyed 3398 Australians of all ages. 68% of the population plays video games – mostly on PCs but phones and tablets have seen increased use for adults. Children play on all devices. Average age of video gamers is 33 years. 47% of video game players are female. 98% of homes with children have video games. 35% of children have played games for the school curriculum. 24% have used video games at work for training. 89% say video gaming can improve thinking skills. 61% think video games could fight dementia. 49% of people over 50 play – the fastest growing segment.


PlayStation Virtual Reality headset

PlayStation VR, Sony’s virtual reality headset  for the PlayStation 4, will arrive in October 2016 for $AU550. Attached to a comfortable padded headset, special curved lenses stretch and magnify a 5.7 inch screen across your field of vision. It will come with 50 games, immersing you in a 3D world of virtual reality. You will also need a PlayStation camera and motion controllers (wands). It will be cheaper than the other 2 VR headsets coming this year – Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality were huge this year at TED in Vancouver and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, with VR headsets now available with the latest mobile phones. Mark Zuckerberg: “VR is the next platform, where anyone can experience and share anything they want”.


Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft (owned by Microsoft) is used in over 7000 classrooms in more than 40 countries. Microsoft recently acquired learning game MinecraftEdu from Finland, which has lessons for teachers using Minecraft with STEM, history, language and art. The new Minecraft Education Edition will be rolled out mid 2016 – free at first, then $5 pa per child.


Do games boost learning?

A 2013 French study of 27 000 Year 9 students found very little correlation between playing video games and cognitive/school tests. However, a new study from the Uni of Bristol found that progressive scoring systems in games deactivate the brain’s Default Mode Network and quieten down parts of the brain associated with unfocused mind-wandering. Students given a gamified quiz showed higher engagement and more goal-directed behaviour.


Problem: Australia’s internet/broadband speed

In 2015, our download speed was ranked 49th in the world . By 2025, our broadband speed will be 75% of the world average, ranking 100th. The government’s Fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network will struggle to accommodate all devices and their download requirements in the future (eg. 4K ultra HD video streaming).


Social media and sleep

No surprise really…recent Uni of Pittsburgh studies of 19-32 yr olds found heavy use of social media was linked to sleep problems and a significantly greater risk of depression. A 2015 study of 11-17 yr olds found social media use was linked to diminished sleep quality, lower self-esteem and elevated levels of anxiety and depression.

RUOK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day 10 Sept

RUOK? Day and World Suicide Prevention Day are both on this Thursday 10 Sept.


Living Is For Everyone

This Aust. Govt project is a suicide and self-harm prevention resource. Excellent links, fact sheets and information.

24 fact sheets:

Brochure: Suicide – worried about someone?:

Excellent links to services for helplines, mental health, drugs and alcohol, youth, gender diversity, bereavement….


You may have seen this email today from the ACT Govt:


You can recognise the signs – Let’s Talk for Suicide Prevention

It is distressing to realise that someone close to you may be considering taking their own life. It is often difficult to know what to say or what to do. People need to know that it is OK to Talk. Recognising the warning signs is one way that you can support someone who you are concerned about.

Below are some suggested signs that you might look out for in someone you know who may be at risk:

  • Have you noticed any changes in their behaviour? For instance have they began giving away precious objects;
  • Has the person begun to withdraw? Do they make excuses not to go out with friends and family like they have in the past?
  • Has the person you are concerned about stopped engaging in the activities that they usually enjoy?
  • Why do people take their own life?
  • There are no simple explanations as to why people take their own life and often the reasons are not clear to others. A person’s desire to take their own life may be driven by a number of factors. It is often related to a desire to escape intolerable emotional or physical pain or a sense of hopelessness.


There are a number of factors that are known to increase a person’s risk (risk factors):


  • Poor physical or mental health;
  • A history of deliberate self-harm;
  • Social or financial problems;
  • Discrimination;
  • Low educational achievement;
  • Legal problems;
  • Imprisonment;
  • Lack of parental bonding;
  • Family violence or disharmony;
  • Lack of friends;
  • Experiences of bullying;
  • Experiences of harassment;
  • Experiences of abuse; and
  • Social isolation.


There are also some things that may reduce the possibility that an individual or group of individual’s will become suicidal (protective factors):


  • Good physical and mental health;
  • Economic security;
  • Self-esteem;
  • A spiritual or religious belief;
  • A personal sense of meaning or purpose to life;
  • Personal resilience and problem-solving skills;
  • Connectedness to family and school;
  • Responsibility for children;
  • Functional family communication patterns;
  • The presence of a significant other person in an individual’s life;
  • Community and social integration; and
  • Non-stigmatised community attitudes to mental illness.


Getting help


Living is for Everyone (LIFE) website is a world-class suicide and self-harm prevention resource. Dedicated to providing the best available evidence and resources to guide activities aimed at reducing the rate at which people take their lives in Australia.

The LIFE website is designed for people across the community who are involved in suicide and self-harm prevention activities.

Suicide Prevention Australia a non-profit, non-government organisation working as a public health advocate in suicide prevention.

Supportlink StandBy Response Service is a coordinated community crisis response service for families, friends and associates who have been bereaved through suicide.

Lifeline Australia 24hr crisis support on 13 11 14. Suicide prevention, crisis support and mental health services.

beyondblue Australian organisation provides information about depression to consumers, carers and health professionals.

Headspace provides support, information and assistance for young people aged 12 to 25 years who are experiencing emotional or mental health issues and/or a substance use issue.

eheadspace is a confidential, free and secure space where young people 12 – 25 or their family can chat, email or speak on the phone with a qualified youth mental health professional.

Kids Helpline a 24 hour telephone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Ph. 1800 55 1800.

Mens Line Australia a telephone support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way. Ph. 1300 78 99 78.

Good books and movies

Some good books and movies….


Inside out – movie

The latest animated Pixar film has had great reviews. Directed and co-written by Pete Docter (director of Up), the film is set in the mind of Riley, a young girl who is moving with her parents to a new city. Five personified emotions guide her – Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness. These animated “creatures” live in Headquarters, Riley’s conscious mind, where they influence her actions and memories via a console. As Riley’s life changes, different emotions become prevalent, affecting her personality and mood.  A year later, Riley has adapted and her emotions work together to help her lead a happy and emotionally complex life. Psychologists provided their expertise for the story, emphasising that human emotions are mirrored in interpersonal relationships and can be significantly moderated by them. The film has been praised for its concept and poignant subject matter. “Wise, witty and warm…” (T. Evans); “A fireworks display of fizzing ideas and bursts of imagination…” (J. Graham). I recently saw the film and its depiction of emotions was fun but also informative, opening discussions about mental health and memory. It would be useful in discussions about feelings and emotions with younger children, whilst older students could analyse features of emotions, the subconscious, neuropsychology and behaviour.


A monster calls by Patrick Ness – book and movie

This 2011 book is truly outstanding – winner of the Carnegie Medal, Kate Greenaway Medal and other awards. A film is currently in production, due for release in Oct. 2016, starring Liam Neeson as the monster, Felicity Jones as the mother and Sigourney Weaver as the grandmother. Author Patrick Ness was asked to write the book, based on an idea by YA author Siobhan Dowd, who died from cancer before she could write it. Thirteen year old Conor’s mother is being treated for cancer, when Conor is visited by an ancient monster who insists on telling him 3 tales. These tales ultimately help Conor face his mother’s imminent death and allow him to deal with the frequent nightmare that disturbs him. It is extraordinarily moving, even harrowing – and yet it offers real insight into what a child must cope with. The illustrations by Jim Kay are dark and frightening, adding great atmosphere to the story. “Realistic and magical, it is a fable about the complexity of our emotions, giving us permission to feel anger and illuminating the nature of loss.” (N. Jones). “Compelling, powerful and impressive.” (Philip Pullman). Ages 10 to 16 – but really for everyone. I loved it and definitely needed tissues.


Unwind by Neal Shusterman

This 2007 dystopian fiction book is on the ALA Best Young Adult Book list and consistently rates highly on Goodreads. It is the first of the Unwind Dystology series (4 books), set in the US in the near future. “The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child ‘unwound’, whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.” (Goodreads). Themes include free will, society, consciousness, law, trust, betrayal, hope. “Thought-provoking, terrifying and almost inconceivable.” (TeensReadToo). Book 5 in the series – Unbound – is expected in 2015. A film is currently in development.


Goosebumps – the movie

This 3D live action/computer-animated horror comedy film, based on the children’s book series by R. L. Stine, is due for release in Oct. 2015. In an unusual approach,  the film is also a fake biography about Stine the author (played by Jack Black), who keeps the ghosts and monsters in the series locked up in his manuscripts, until teenagers Zach and Hannah accidentally release them. They must then all work together to put the monsters back where they came from. A TV series has previously been made, but not a film. Jack Black said he plays R.L Stine as a darker, more brooding character than he is in real life. Stine will make a cameo appearance in the film. “More monsters than you imagined, in one incredible adventure” – includes the abominable snowman, the dummy, giant mantises, the clown, the mummy and  the scarecrow. Should be scarily crazy J


R U OK? Day – 12 Sept 2013

The R U OK? Foundation is dedicated to encouraging conversations to prevent suicide and promote mental health.

R U OK? Day is a national day of action and reminds people to regularly check in with family and friends and meaningfully ask ‘are you ok?’ of anyone struggling with life.

How to ask R U OK? Follow the steps or use the 4 min. cartoon video or PPT or PDF:

More resources:

Inspiring video stories:

Crisis support and hotlines: Lifeline, SANE, Beyondblue, ReachOut, Headspace and more.

Mental health organisations

Recent research has shown that young people are becoming less likely to call helplines, preferring online chat instead.


Online fact sheets, tips and forums to help 14-25 year olds manage tough times, including stories and online discussions.


Information and resources about depression and anxiety.

Black Dog Institute

Information about mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder; staying well techniques.


The National Youth Mental Health Foundation. Online chat and telephone support.


How to ask “R U OK?”

How to ask ‘R U OK?’

Professor Tony Jorm explains why asking someone ‘Are you ok?’ can change a life

 Help stop little problems becoming bigger by connecting with someone you care about and asking them, ‘Are you ok?’

You don’t have to be an expert to support someone going through a tough time. You just need to be able to listen to their concerns without judgment and take the time to follow up with them.

Below are some simple steps to start a conversation.

1. Ask the question, ‘Are you ok?’


·         Start a general conversation; preferably somewhere private

·         Build trust through good eye contact, open and relaxed body language

·         Ask open–ended questions

‘What’s been happening? How are you going?’
‘I’ve noticed that… What’s going on for you at the moment?’
‘You don’t seem like yourself and I’m wondering are you ok? Is there anything that’s contributing?’

2. Listen without judgement


·         Guide the conversation with caring questions and give them time to reply

·         Don’t rush to solve problems for them

·         Help them understand that solutions are available when they’re ready to start exploring these

‘How has that made you feel?’
‘How long have you felt this way?’
‘What do you think caused this reaction?’



3. Encourage action


·         Summarise the issues and ask them what they plan to do

·         Encourage them to take one step, such as see their doctor

·         If they’re unsure about where to go to for help, help them to contact a local doctor or the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

‘What do you think might help your situation?’
‘Have you considered making an appointment with your doctor?’
‘Would you like me to make an appointment or come with you?’

4. Follow up


·         Put a note in your diary to call them in one week. If they’re desperate, follow up sooner

·         Ask if they’ve managed to take that first step and see someone

·         If they didn’t find this experience helpful, urge them to try a different professional because there’s someone out there who can help them

‘How are things going? Did you speak with your doctor?’
‘What did they suggest? What did you think of their advice?’
‘You’ve had a busy time. Would you like me to make the appointment?’

Dealing with denial?


·         If they deny the problem, don’t criticise them. Acknowledge they’re not ready to talk

·         Say you’re still concerned about changes in their behavior and you care about them

·         Ask if you can enquire again next week if there’s no improvement

·         Avoid a confrontation with the person unless it’s necessary to prevent them hurting themselves or others

‘It’s ok that you don’t want to talk about it but please don’t hesitate to call me when you’re ready to discuss it.’
‘Can we meet up next week for a chat?’
‘Is there someone else you’d rather discuss this with?’


What if you think the person is considering suicide?


If you’re worried that someone you know is doing it tough or having suicidal thoughts, it’s important that you give that person an opportunity to talk about it. Find a quiet and private space to ask them how they’re feeling and whether they’ve had any thoughts about suicide. Speak in a calm, confident and non-judgmental manner to help them feel supported and reassured.

If someone says they’re thinking about suicide, it’s important you take it seriously. Tell them that you care about them and you want to help. Don’t become agitated, angry or upset. Explain that thoughts of suicide are common and don’t have to be acted upon.

It’s also essential that you determine whether they’ve formulated a plan to take their life. Ask if they’ve decided how they’ll kill themselves or if they’ve begun to take steps to end their life. If they have, it’s critical that you do NOT leave them alone and do NOT use guilt or threats to prevent suicide. Even if someone says they haven’t made a plan for suicide, you still need to take it seriously. Lack of a plan does NOT guarantee their safety. Get immediate professional help or call emergency help lines – such as Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 – for advice and support.

People who are thinking about suicide may signal their suicidal intentions to others. In other cases, there may be no warning. It’s therefore critical that you regularly engage with family, friends and colleagues and provide them with the attention and time to ask them how they’re going.

What if I can’t speak to them face-to-face?


·         Use the same 4 steps above and talk to them over the phone

·         Avoid calling from a noisy place or whilst traveling

·         If they’re in a rush, make a time to call them back

·         Remember that they can’t see your face, so it’s important to verbally indicate your support

‘I wanted to call up and have a chat to you about how you’re going. Is now a good time?’
‘It sounds like you’re busy or in a rush. When is a good time to call you back to have a proper chat?’

Can I use social media?


·         Social media is a great way to share personal tips and information on coping strategies and wellbeing tips (visit our for examples)

·         Send positive messages but avoid publicly commenting on how someone’s coping

·         Encourage a conversation over the phone or in person by suggesting a time to catch up
Think carefully before posting or sharing content. What may be appropriate face-to-face could be misinterpreted online. If you’re wondering how the comment might be interpreted, it’s probably best not to send it and to give them a call instead.


R U OK? Day

“R U OK?Day is a national day of action on the second Thursday of September (13 September 2012), dedicated to inspiring all people of all backgrounds to regularly ask each other ‘Are you ok?’

By regularly reaching out to one another and having open and honest conversations, we can all help build a more connected community and reduce our country’s high suicide rate.

More than 2,200 Australians suicide each year and men are around 3 times more likely to die by suicide than females (ABS 2012). For each person that takes their life, another 30 people attempt to end their own life (SANE Australia).”

School resources:


Many video resources – youth, well-known Australians and others:


Understanding depression


Other excellent mental health websites: