Tasmanians urged to brave the cold, brave the conversation

Tasmanian not-for-profit health insurer St.LukesHealth is urging everyone to brave the cold and brave the conversation this Shorts Day.

An initiative of SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY, people are encouraged to wear shorts to work or school tomorrow June 21, 2021, the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year, to spark conversations around mental health.

Just like wearing shorts in winter, discussing mental health issues or concerns can sometimes be uncomfortable. But “Shorts Day” is an opportunity for the community to do it together.

St.LukesHealth Chief Operating Officer Darren Harris said St.LukesHealth had a long association with Mitch McPherson and SPEAK UP! Stay ChaTY and the organisation was proud to support the important campaign.

“We are proud to support Mitch and the SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY Team in encouraging Tasmanians to talk about mental health,” Mr Harris said.

“We know these conversations can be uncomfortable but it is important to show up and be active and engaged in these discussions.

“Conversations around mental health create opportunities for connection, care and change.”

St.LukesHealth has donated $1000 towards the initiative.

The most recent St.LukesHealth’s Tasmanian Health Report, commissioned in September 2019, found around one third (37 per cent) of 25 to 34 year olds reported seeking professional help for a mental health problem in the past year.

Mr Harris said as a result St.LukesHealth had introduced benefits for counselling services, encouraging members to access mental health support and intervention services as early as possible.

Previously members could only access benefits for mental health if they sought the services of a clinical psychologist.

“We know that when people need help or access to a health professional, they need the assistance now and not in six weeks’ time,” Mr Harris said.

“The 2019 snapshot reinforced that we need to support our young people and their families to form life-long healthy habits so they don’t become the chronically ill of tomorrow.”

The health report also found that women were more likely than men to have sought professional help for a mental health related problem.

The most common principal diagnoses for community mental health care contacts among young people aged 25-35 years in Tasmania in 2017-2018 were schizophrenia (22.8 per cent), depressive episode (8.3 per cent), bipolar affective disorders (6.6 per cent), specific personality disorders (4.7 per cent) and other anxiety disorders (4.3 per cent.)

The report identified that the direct mental health-related costs for the health system were more than $30 million for Tasmanians aged 25 to 34 years.
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