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The patient-psychiatrist relationship: it's a matter of trust

Anita wearing bright pink and standing outside in front of a garden fence covered with vines

Anita is a SANE Peer Ambassador, mother, vet and writer who lives with Bipolar 1. From her experience of hospital and recovery, she reflects on the importance of a trusting and collaborative relationship with her psychiatrist.  

I don’t clearly remember the first time I met my psychiatrist. I was too sick.

My first encounter with mental illness was sudden and brutal. Psychosis swept in within a week of my first baby’s birth 14 years ago. That episode was the beginning of my bipolar 1 disorder.

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What is the National Stigma Report Card?

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We are delighted to announce the launch of findings from the National Stigma Report Card, the most comprehensive research of its kind in Australia. 

As you may be aware, SANE’s Anne Deveson Research Centre, in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences and with the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, invited people living with complex mental health issues to participate in the Our Turn to Speak survey.

Our Turn to Speak was the first survey of its kind in Australia that sought to comprehensively understand the experiences of people living with complex mental health issues, and how they are affected by stigma and discrimination.

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Anxiety remains my friend, and not my foe.

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Anita talks about living with anxiety. She shares her thoughts on the challenges facing healthcare workers during the pandemic and importance of self care.

Anxiety has been my friend in life, and at times, it has been my foe.

Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. It allows us to focus and pay attention to detail, it motivates us to complete tasks well and to take action when we’re challenged. However, disproportionate levels of anxiety can lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension and worry. Left unchecked, these symptoms can lead to panic attacks, characterised by feelings of impending doom, and physical symptoms which include heart palpitations, sweating, poor concentration, sleep disturbance, irritability and muscle tension.

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Top tips for coping with anxiety during COVID

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As part of SANE's COVID-19 mental health series, one of our Help Centre counsellors shares their top tips for coping with anxiety. 

If you’re like most people in Australia, you’ve been dealing with uncertainty and change because of COVID-19. If this has caused you anxiety, you’re not alone. It’s natural to experience challenging emotions during a pandemic. But, if you’re finding you can’t get a break from anxiety, stress and worry, it’s important you have strategies to help you get through. 

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Media reporting on mental illness, violence and crime needs to change

media_photographers Brett Sayles/Pexels, CC BY 4.0

The media is a key source of information about mental illness for the public, and research shows media coverage can influence public attitudes and perceptions of mental ill-health.

But when it comes to complex mental illnesses such as psychosis and schizophrenia, media coverage tends to emphasise negative aspects, often choosing to focus on portrayals of violence, unpredictability and danger to others.

These portrayals can give an exaggerated impression of the actual rate at which violent incidents occur. In reality, such incidents are rare and are often better accounted for by other factors.

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COVID 19 … Enough to make you want to pull your hair out!

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During Covid-19 we've heard the concern about the impact the pandemic is going to have on people’s mental health. It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out. I have found myself thinking a lot about people who literally pull their hair out. People with trichotillomania. “Tricka what?” you ask. Trichotillomania comes under the umbrella of Body-focussed Repetitive Behaviour Disorders.

Treatment of trichotillomania can be hard to find, but people find ways of managing the disorder and living with the impact it has on their lives. People with trichotillomania go to great lengths to disguise the damage from their hairpulling, and many find it incredibly anxiety-provoking to tell another person about their experience or seek help.

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Care farming: creating community in nature

Liz-Everard-and-Julia-Westland Hocking Fellow, Liz Everard, and Flourish Australia Mental Health Consumer Representative, Julia Westland.

Liz Everard, 2019–2020 Hocking Fellow, reflects on how COVID highlighted the potential of nature-based interventions.

When I started my Hocking Fellowship project in late 2019, I intended to research a number of therapeutic or care farm communities that exist in the United States and Ireland. My aim was – and still is – to explore how this model of care could be provided in the Australian context. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic has put my travel plans on hold. 

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Has COVID created a new understanding of complex mental health issues?

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Lisa talks about living with depression and anxiety. She shares her thoughts on how conversations have changed during the pandemic.

Has there been another topic of conversation over the past few weeks besides COVID? Gone is the simple “Hey, how are you?” replaced by “How are you coping?” and “Are you staying sane?”. It’s that last one that gets me. And I’m just as guilty as others because I’ve heard myself ask a version of that very question: “How are you dealing, in amongst the crazy?”. 

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Managing BPD during the COVID shake-up

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In SANE's COVID mental health series, Carissa shares her experience of living with BPD. The COVID shake-up reminded her how far she'd come and that she would be ok.

Oh dear. I thought it was all coming back. The panic attacks were present again. The periods of dissociation throughout the day. The trembling crying. The isolation. COVID really had thrown a spanner in the works for someone like me.

When you have lived experience of borderline personality disorder (BPD), it’s so easy to jump back to the mindset of defining yourself when old symptoms start to show. My brain was slowly trying to convince me that I was sick again.

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Anxiety: New book from SANE Board Director Dr Mark Cross

Dr Mark Cross - Anxiety book

"When the idea for this book was mooted, I was excited. During the first conversation with my publisher, I was already working out the layout in my head and making a list of people I'd interview. That was before my anxiety kicked in ..."

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Mark Cross knows a lot about anxiety. Many of his patients experience it, which is hardly surprising given anxiety is the most common mental health issue in Australia.

But Mark also knows about anxiety from another perspective, because he too has lived with it all his life.

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