Georgie Harman, CEO of beyondblue, shares her insights and some surprising statistics on the state of anxiety in Australia off the back of the Get To Know Anxiety campaign.
How often do you feel stressed or notice that someone around you is stressed? Whether it is in public situations such as a traffic jam or supermarket queue, at work or home, the answer is probably every day. But there is a big difference between being stressed and experiencing anxiety, and most people have much to learn about Australia’s most common mental health condition.
Recent research by beyondblue found only half of Australians know that anxiety is not part of someone’s personality and just six in ten understand that anxiety is not simply stress.
beyondblue recently revived its Get To Know Anxiety campaign, which teaches people about the symptoms of anxiety conditions to prompt them to seek help.
Thousands of Australians with these conditions don’t seek support because they don’t realise what they’re experiencing is treatable. Ongoing symptoms such as hot and cold flushes, relentless worrying, panic attacks or compulsive behaviour which occur without any obvious reason or cause are not normal and can be treated.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows:
26 per cent of people experience an anxiety condition in their lives and nearly 3 million currently have an anxiety condition, making it the most common mental health condition in Australia.
Despite being more common than depression, just 24 per cent of beyondblue survey respondents described anxiety as being a major problem in Australia, compared with 62 per cent who described depression as a major problem.
These figures show our awareness of depression as a major mental health condition is improving, however there is still much to be done to improve understanding of anxiety conditions. Concerningly, 40 per cent of people in beyondblue’s research did not know that anxiety could be treated effectively. As one in three women and one in five men will experience an anxiety condition at some stage in their life, it is worrying that so many may live with a treatable condition because they have come to accept their symptoms are part of their personality or character makeup.
Given that we all experience some anxiety, it can be hard to know how much is too much, so awareness campaigns like Get To Know Anxiety, which focus on identifying symptoms, are paramount.
beyondblue’s campaign aims to raise awareness of anxiety so people who recognise these symptoms will ask for help. Evidence has shown that the sooner someone seeks support, the quicker they can recover.
beyondblue literature provides information on anxiety conditions, common signs, symptoms and treatments, and for the first step to recovery, we always encourage people to take action by seeking help from a GP.
For those who want more information about anxiety symptoms before seeing a health professional, there is a wealth of information on the beyondblue website or if you would like to talk anonymously to a trained mental health counsellor, call the beyondblue Support Service, 24/7 on 1300 22 46 36 or chat live online between 3pm and midnight AEST.