West Moreton Health's Annette Coutts is calling for an end to the stigma surrounding mental health.
West Moreton Health's Annette Coutts is calling for an end to the stigma surrounding mental health. Contributed

Local calls to end stigma this Mental Health Week

ANNETTE Coutts was in a hospital bed in the UK with an infected abscess when she discovered that the stigma surrounding mental illness had the power to be incredibly dangerous.

"I told the staff, and no-one took me seriously," she said.

"They thought because I was in hospital for mental health treatment that I couldn't be trusted, shouldn't be believed."

Ms Coutts said by the time she received medical attention days later she was seriously unwell and believes that her bipolar disorder caused nursing staff to avoid her and keep her away from other hospital patients.

This week is Mental Health Week and Ms Coutts, who now works at The Park Mental Health Centre at Wacol, is calling on local businesses to adopt West Moreton Health's Stop Stigma Charter.

The charter was created last year to champion understanding and inclusion and to break down stereotypes surrounding mental illness.

The push comes as the federal government establishes a Productivity Commission Inquiry into mental health, which will examine the impact the challenges of mental illness have on income, living standards, physical wellbeing and the nation's economy.

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said Mental Health Week was an important time to shine a light on mental health and to ensure the best possible support Australians living with mental illness.

"Every year around four million Australians deal with some form of chronic or episodic mental health condition," Minister Hunt said.

"Sadly, one in five Australians affected by mental illness do not seek help because of stigma."

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can call 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 22 55) and talk to a health care professional about available mental health support services and care.

Those in need of immediate support can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.