World Mental Health Day: The impact of alcohol and other drugs
Every year, October 10 is recognised as World Mental Health Day. It raises awareness and support for mental health issues around the world.
Mental health and alcohol and other drug use can be connected. But that’s not to say that every person with a mental health condition has an alcohol or other drug issue. Or that every person using alcohol or drugs has issues with their mental health.
Drinking, drugs and mental health
In many cases, alcohol and other drug use can directly affect a person’s mental health symptoms, and vice versa.
For example, someone could be experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety and may use alcohol to help cope with those feelings. However, over time, alcohol consumption can contribute to making those symptoms worse, and the person may also develop a dependence on alcohol (addiction).
Alternately, a person might experience a dependence on alcohol that causes issues in their personal and work life, which could result in the end of a relationship or loss of a job. Negative life events may then lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression as well.
It’s important to talk about mental health
People experiencing a dependence or a mental health condition are often stereotyped as being dangerous and unpredictable. They may be blamed for their issues.
There’s often stigma associated with both alcohol and drug use and mental health. When a person starts to believe negative things about themselves, they can experience shame. Their self-esteem lowers, and they feel unable to succeed or accomplish goals. This can stop them from wanting to ask for help.
Your club can help reduce stigma. Make it normal to chat about mental health by starting conversations. Clubs in Tasmania can get accredited in Healthy Minds, and other states can get information from sites such as R U OK?
Getting help and support
- Dual Diagnosis Australia & New Zealand
- DrugInfo (free, anonymous and non-judgemental AOD information from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation): 1300 85 85 84
- National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline (access to AOD treatment and support): 1800 250 015
- Head to health (national mental health service finder)
- Beyond Blue (national mental health support service): Phone: 1300 22 4636
- Lifeline (crisis/suicide prevention): Phone: 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service (crisis/suicide prevention and support): Phone: 1300 659 467
- Mensline (mental health support service for men): Phone: 1300 78 99 78
View references and more information at Alcohol and Drug Foundation.