For our small team of community educators working in the field of men’s health and wellbeing, we are always challenged on what is classified as a mental illness. We realize there is a small percentage of the population who have a genetic mental illness predisposition. Situational Distress however describes a stage in our mental health and wellbeing that gives us permission to be in a space between being well and being diagnosed with a mental illness. The adoption of this language resonates with blokes and community and fosters change to take personal responsibility for our own wellbeing and health.
Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Gauge (below) shows the space (amber) that there is between being well and a mental illness diagnosis. This is a very important space, because quite often the system wants to shift us from being well straight to a mental illness diagnosis. As individuals we are born with a random capacity to handle things thrown at us in life, these situational factors can come from many places i.e. relationships, financial worries, traumatic events, physical health, pressures of what we do etc. We know that our mental health and wellbeing is a continuum and the gauge can trip from being well (green) to situational distress (amber) and to a mental illness diagnosis and back.
We say all of us will spend some time in the amber through our life (daily, yearly etc) but very few of us will end up in the red zone. The only way we get to the red zone is by being born with a mental illness (a very small percentage of the population) and/or spending too much time in the amber area (this will vary for all of us based on our individual capacity).
We must allow people to have a normal reaction to an adverse/abnormal life event (situational distress). If we recognize and acknowledge the issues causing distress and take steps to address the problems, we will then be able to back up out of the amber zone and back into the green zone.
We focus on the slogan …before it all gets too much… Talk to a Mate!!® If mates and family members don’t ask, it is difficult, even impossible, to ascertain that someone is struggling. Additionally, if issues are left unresolved (too much time is spent in the amber zone) a mental illness diagnosis and/or suicidal thinking can occur.
Owen and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277