02 May 2012 archivespeech

This speech is to support the motion of Capril which aims to increase awareness of mental illness and depression.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17:05): I will be brief in support of the motion, because the origins and a lot of history and some of the contemporary approaches to mental illness and how it should be perceived has already been covered very eloquently by the previous speaker and also by the mover, the Hon. Tammy Franks, who will, no doubt, make some more comments when she sums up. I would like to also commend her on moving this motion because it is a very important issue and it is important to note that it has received multipartisan support.

The wearing of a cape is a very novel way to raise awareness of mental illness. It is certainly a conspicuous garment, not something that most of us would choose to wear on a regular basis. I have to say that offers to colleagues to borrow this crushed red velvet cape have not resulted in acceptance of that offer forthcoming from them. Increasing awareness of mental illness and depression is very important.

Depression is often described as a democratic illness because it does not discriminate between walks of life, gender or race, and 20 per cent of people can expect to have it at some stage in their life.

Stigmatisation and, I guess, embarrassment about having a mental illness have decreased quite significantly in our community. We have had a number of high-profile people over the years who have confessed to not being perfect and to having suffered from depression and I think that has certainly helped in the general community for people to realise that they need to seek help. It is that help-seeking behaviour that we really need to encourage.

In fact, I was looking at some dopey media website today about Gwyneth Paltrow and apparently her husband had suggested to her, after one of her children had been born, that she was suffering from postnatal depression. It was not until he had said something that she realised that she probably was. I think the more people who are aware of depression, the more likely they are to seek help and, obviously, that is incredibly important in suicide prevention. I note that my colleague the Hon. John Dawkins happens to be in the chair and has a very special interest in suicide prevention.

Beyondblue will be the recipient of donations. It is a very good cause and has been around for quite some time under the stewardship of Jeff Kennett. Some of its achievements include the Men's Shed and the Men's Shed online and Movember. It also has a very comprehensive website which is run in conjunction with the Mental Health Council to assist people with mental illness to secure the right health insurance. It provides free training to small and medium businesses to prevent and manage depression and anxiety in the workplace, and it played a significant role in supporting victims of floods and bushfires.

Beyondblue recognises that there can be traumatic episodes that can lead to the development of mental illness in our community. I think the rapid identification of illness and its management, and people getting help and realising that they are not alone is a very worthwhile cause, and I commend the motion.