Awareness of the need to look after our mental health and look out for that of others has probably never been so front and centre in our lives.
That does not mean it doesn’t continue to be shrouded from view as a societal taboo that the wider world cannot let go of, despite the benefit in doing so for the wider community.
By its very nature, mental illness can be such a crippling experience that those suffering from its effects often do so in a stifling silence.
You cannot, as many might suggest, simply “snap out of it” or make what seems the straightforward decision to get help – in the way that you would, without thinking, if you had a physical ailment of some kind.
The person suffering from a mental illness will know, with a clarity borne of a hyper-sensitive awareness at the core of the disease, just what is happening.
That awareness and yet the total inability to do something about it, plus very real, often justifiable concerns about how others will view the condition, means a further sinking into the abyss.
And that is for those who, in relative terms, are almost “lucky” enough to still have just such a modicum of self-awareness despite the incapacitation.
For many, they don’t have the luxury. The nature of their illness, of the symptoms that manifest that diagnosis, means control is quite simply out of their control.
As a society we need to constantly remind ourselves and each other that contact with the spectre of mental illness is one we all share in one way or another – from being one of the 20 per cent expected to suffer, for example, from depression or anxiety in their lifetime to the sister or brother, parent or child or friend who needs more specialised help.
That is why the Albury-Wodonga community is fortunate to have a group such as the now-merged Friends of Nolan House and Albury Hospital Auxiliary in its midst.
The group plays such a vital role in supporting the essential work done at the hospital and especially the mental health unit of Nolan House through raising substantial sums of money as well as donating everyday items.
And it is heartening too to hear how Albury Wodonga Health has secured about $1 million in funding for work at Nolan House, given it is such a integral of our health care system.