Session video and slides

Helen Christensen, Sean West: Science. Compassion. Advice: Mental health in a crisis

In any given year around 5 million Australians will experience the symptoms of mental illness, with only 40% choosing to seek help. This is far from being any given year, as the pandemic, lockdowns and recessionary environment have strained the financial and mental health of practitioners, their colleagues and their clients. This session explores the relevance of translational research in generating real-world change for our community.

SPEAKERS
Helen Christensen, director and chief scientist, Black Dog Institute
Sean West, executive director, Macquarie
Moderator: Colin Tate, chief executive, Conexus Financial

View Helen’s presentation slides here

Paper
Mental wellbeing in uncertain times

CPD are not available for this session

Key Takeaways

  • One of the early lessons Sean West from Macquarie learned was to just take the pressure out of the situation, “because it’s not normal”.
  • 63 per cent of all drinking is now done at home according to Helen Christensen, which is understandably “higher” than previously. It’s a problem, however, because it sets a pattern.
  • While people are understandably going through some psychological distress, this is entirely normal and shouldn’t be made into something pathological; it’s a valid experience and doesn’t mean you have a serious mental illness.
  • Sean calls 20 to 30 staff members per week just to check in on them and make sure they’re OK. When he does this, he tries to ask a variety of questions to elicit answers beyond the usual “stoic” answers.
  • Around 50 per cent of the population is worried about their financial situation, the scientist Helen Christensen explained, and another 50 per cent or so are drinking at hazardous levels.