The Case For Investing In Your Mental Health

Acknowledging that you’re not feeling yourself is really painful. Sure, you’ve been irritable, sluggish and hopeless. But it’s just been a string of bad days, weeks, months. Not anything permanent.

However, we all know that swirling black cloud hovering over your head is not something to be shrugged off as ‘unfortunate weather’. You can easily step out from under it. It’ll just take a little bit of work.

Of course, going to a psychologist and buying medication, exercising and eating properly, costs time and money. Two things that young people like us are severely lacking. But taking care of your mental health is like all good investments, in that it may take preparation, pain and patience but it will set you up nicely for your future. It might be time to take that step.

It’s more expensive to ignore your mental health

Poor mental health is costing the Australian economy $200 billion and 12 million workdays per year, due to absenteeism or low productivity. Yep, a ridiculous amount of money. All because mental health is misunderstood or ignored.

Think about it: the persistent symptoms of depression and anxiety cause you to feel distracted and unmotivated so you won’t be able to do your job properly. And without people properly understanding your condition, you’re going to run into some professional problems. It could have an adverse effect on your employment. The financial ramifications of which could be very damaging.

However, if you’re proactive about your treatment, and perhaps even honest with your employer about your condition, you can prevent any of that from happening. And don’t think your employer is going to care that you need time off for appointments or mental health days, because studies have shown that businesses profit from taking care of mental health issues. So if they’re smart, they’ll know it’s a positive thing.

Besides, if you’re not spending money on healing the wound, it’ll be spent on band-aids. Self care is essential, but it often costs money. Your blues become a spiralling excuse for ice cream, clothes, fancy perfumes, new cars. Expensive, quick fix solutions will end up costing you way more than a cure.

How much are we talking?

I know it seems overwhelming. But seeking treatment is not as hard as it’s made out to be. And it may not cost as much as you think.

According to BeyondBlue, the cost of an appointment with a psychologist varies from practitioner to practitioner. But we live in a country with an decent healthcare system, meaning you can claim your psychologist appointments on Medicare.

To claim on Medicare, you need to go and visit your GP to get them to put you on a Mental Health Treatment Plan. As part of this plan, the doctor will refer you to a psychologist and you can receive up to 6 therapy sessions every calendar year, free of charge.

If the psychologist assesses you and discovers you need more, you’ll be eligible for an additional four. After the maximum of ten appointments, you can continue with your treatment and pay the cost. An hour-long appointment with a therapist shouldn’t cost you more than $250, which is not a small fee, but you can claim an amount back through Medicare on this too.

If you have moderate to severe depression or anxiety, you may be given a prescription for medication. But that is subsidised under the Mental Health Treatment Plan too.

Diagnosis and treatment is a lot more affordable than we’re lead to believe. Don’t trust your TV shrink. The real ones are here to help you out, not wring you dry.

Be kind, unwind

So the medical stuff aside, there’s a host of other ways that you can help your mental health. Exercising and eating better are well known. But simply being easy on yourself is the best place to start.

We’re expected to be happy, chirpy and positive in every single human reaction we have. And if we’re not? We’re demonised. Psychology Professor Joseph Forgas told Huffington Post, “By expecting an unrelenting happiness, even normal, mild negative moods are seen as pathological, and the end result is that many people become depressed.” Trying to be happy when you’re not happy, and then punishing yourself for failing, is extremely harmful.

So let yourself feel your sad feelings, but start to work your way out of the damaging ones. By way of mental health, spending your money on things that will actually help you, rather than add to a pile of stuff, is a much better approach.

Josephine is a writer from western Sydney who likes to blatantly lie on her bios. She played the youngest sister in 80s sitcom Family Ties and looks fantastic running with a backpack on.