Mental Health Illness Is Indiscriminate


Emma Eros

Mental health knows no barriers, and sadly Daniel Hadley, the son of broadcaster Ray Hadley from 2GB Radio has fallen victim to this insidious illness. Daniel, who is a 28-year-old police officer, has experienced some incredibly disturbing incidents that one could not begin to imagine. Daniel had been silently suffering and trying to deal with the trauma that goes hand in hand with his role as a police officer.

Sadly, not everyone is able to cope with the associated carnage that our emergency service workers deal with on a daily basis, and Daniel falls into this category. Daniel, who had been off work for several months due to injuries, had been silently battling mental health issues for some time.

I take my hat off and applaud all of our emergency service workers as this is a job that I could not do personally. Thankfully there are people who will take on these roles and deal with unimaginable tragedies on a daily basis.

Many emergency service people do not ask for help (due to the impact it may have on their career or being ashamed of admitting that they are not coping) and they are self-medicating through drugs, alcohol or other means. Daniel has unfortunately fallen into this category, but now he has been forced to step out of the darkness and we can hope that he receives the help he desperately requires.

This is not an isolated case, as many of our emergency workers are suffering, and suffering mostly in silence. In its submission to a senate enquiry the Police Federation of Australia recommended that a service provider network be set up in every state and territory for police officers suffering trauma. In the submission, Chief Executive Mark Burgess advised that the service would focus on early intervention, diagnosis and treatment.

“A recent report conducted by the Phoenix Australia Centre for Post-traumatic Mental Health found almost one in four AFP officers suffer from psychological distress, while almost one in 10 has had suicidal thoughts.”

I think this is indicative of the impact of the job, and these issues do not just affect the AFP, they are also prominent in our Fire Brigade, Ambulance Drivers and Defence Force.

As mentioned, mental health is indiscriminate and can take hold of anyone, from your average person to our emergency service workers. Mental illness affects approximately 4 million Australians, including children, and it appears to be on the rise. Every day, 8 Australians take their own life due to mental illness. It seems that our mental health services are hard to access, underfunded and very fragmented, which makes it difficult for people to get the services they require in their time of need.

Another group vulnerable to mental health issues are our farmers as they watch their livelihood, stock and crops wither and die before their very eyes and are unable to prevent this. Our mental health care and services seems to be broken, and are in desperate need of an overhaul as so many people are succumbing to this terrible illness.

The 13th of September is R U OK Day and this is the perfect opportunity to reach out to someone you may think is struggling. Just the simple act of asking this questions “are you ok?’, can open a conversation and possibly save a life.

The Australian government needs to take this matter seriously and place greater focus and afford greater resources to combat this, instead of virtue signalling in the UN. Where is our government when its own citizens need its assistance the most?

If you or anyone that you think may be suffering distress, depression or mental illness, then please contact the following support groups:

SANE Helpline – 1800 18 72 63
Lifeline – 131 114
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 46 36

You are not alone, so please reach out for support either to one of the above groups or to a trusted family member or friend.