Special Guest Blogger:
Chris Burns CSC
SA Mental Health Commissioner
Intentionally focusing on wellbeing rather than mental illness
Wellbeing is a term often used these days, but possibly not well understood.
For some it means ‘functioning well’ for others ‘feeling positive.’
For me, it means ‘a balance of all things that determine health’.
We know factors that determine our wellbeing include: a sense of contribution and belonging in our community through work, sport or volunteering; having a safe and secure home for us and our families; enough income to meet our needs and being able to access care for our health when we need it.
As SA Mental Health Commissioner, I intentionally focus on wellbeing rather than mental illness. This is because wellbeing is not just about responding to illness through a clinical perspective, but having the things we need to build and maintain our capacity to stay mentally strong and healthy.
During Mental Health Week, we pay particular attention to how we can take good care of our wellbeing. One week is not enough – we need to do this every day.
So I invite you to practise taking care of yourself. If you are feeling well you could offer some appreciation and gratitude for that, and the things that support your wellbeing, including those social determinants such as having a job, somewhere to live and the support of family and friends.
For those of us who may feel depleted, have high levels of distress or job and housing insecurity – and that can happen to anyone – we may need help and support. We need others to help us with a bit a self-care. Asking can be difficult if you feel like you’re a burden but family and friends want you to be OK they want to hear from you.
If your wellbeing is strong and you have the capacity, why not reach out to others who may be distressed or don’t have enough support right now – maybe they don’t have a roof over their head or really need 24/7 attention for a little while? It can be as simple as sitting with them and listening, or maybe turning up with a casserole. Or simply asking: “What will help?” or “Can I take the kids for the night to give you a break?”
Wellbeing encompasses how we can take care of ourselves and/or get help from others if we experience distress, but also how we keep ourselves and support each other to stay well, which fits with our vision for South Australia to be internationally recognised as a resilient, compassionate and connected community.
We know recovery from mental distress and illness is not just possible, but likely – especially when we offer human connection and support in our community.
By Chris Burns CSC
SA Mental Health Commissioner
Chris Burns CSC, SA Mental Health Commissioner
SA Mental Health Commissioner Chris Burns CSC is a passionate advocate for strengthening the mental wellbeing of his fellow South Australians.
Chris is involved with people from all walks of life and organisations ranging from government to private enterprise as he spreads the message that good mental health starts with strong, inclusive communities and early intervention, promotion and prevention rather than acute care and emergency departments.
He prioritised and incorporated the views of South Australians as he led the development of the SA Mental Health Strategic Plan 2017–2022. Chris and his team are now implementing the Strategic Plan.
2019 Mental Health Week: October 7–11
Special Guest Bloggers