Too many people still don’t know that anxiety conditions are genuine mental health issues and do not realise how common they are, despite more than a quarter of Australians experiencing an anxiety condition during their lives.
The findings are contained in new analysis that shows thousands of Australians with these conditions don’t seek support because they don’t realise that what they’re experiencing is treatable.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said it indicates many people don’t recognise anxiety symptoms such as hot and cold flushes, racing heart, snowballing worries and compulsive behaviour are signs that they could be experiencing a mental health issue, and instead think the symptoms are just a part of their personality.
She said this has prompted beyondblue to revive its national Get To Know Anxiety campaign to help people recognise the signs and symptoms so they can get treatment and get better.
“These findings are deeply troubling and show that more must be done to educate the Australian community about anxiety,” she said. “Anxiety is a debilitating condition that robs people of their peace of mind. It can stop people leaving their homes, holding down a job, maintaining relationships or doing everyday things because of irrational fears of what could happen. It’s a problem that can prevent people from living the life they want. No one should have to live with the relentless worrying, panic attacks or compulsive rituals that often characterise anxiety conditions.
“This analysis shows only half the population knows anxiety is not part of someone’s personality. Similarly, only six in 10 people understand that anxiety is not just stress. An anxiety condition is different from stress, which everyone experiences occasionally. An anxiety disorder is not part of a person’s ‘personality’ and it’s ridiculous to think so. If people continue to see anxiety conditions as just stress or a character trait, they will never seek help and they will never get treatment.
“Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 26% of people experience an anxiety condition in their lives and nearly 3 million currently have an anxiety condition, making it more common than depression. We are reviving this campaign because Australians need reminding that anxiety is a major mental health problem that can be treated successfully. You don’t have to put up with it.”
Get to Know Anxiety was originally launched in May 2013 and data shows Australians are now better informed about the signs and symptoms and how to seek support.
This new analysis however, which surveyed over 700 people, shows many people still do not realise anxiety is a treatable condition that is prevalent in the community, with other findings showing half of respondents think anxiety affects only a small proportion of people, and one in five doesn’t know that the sooner someone seeks support, the quicker they can recover.
The anxiety campaign will run for four weeks on television, online and on outdoor advertising. The television ads will feature the clip above and the digital ads will feature the short film below, starring Australian-born and internationally-acclaimed actor Ben Mendelsohn.