The Big Stigma - Media Release

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More than 50 per cent of young Australians are too embarrassed to talk about mental health issues

July 18, 2016

Startling new research has revealed the shocking role that “stigma” plays in preventing young Australians seeking help for mental health issues.

Each year, a quarter of all young people in this country will experience mental health issues, however many of them will not seek the help that they need.

Professor Debra Rickwood, a chief investigator on the research from headspace, said it showed that 52 per cent of young people were embarrassed to discuss a mental health problem with anyone and nearly half were afraid of what others would think.

Colleen Tribe, General Manager for Roseberry Community Services, the Lead Agency for headspace Gladstone, said stigma plays a profound and significant role in stopping Australian youth from seeking help for mental health issues.

“Stigma can make it harder to ask for help and get support for mental health issues out of fear of being judged,” Mrs Tribe said.

headspace Gladstone Youth Reference Group Member, Shae Bunge said “I had my own views of how someone who was depressed was supposed to look and act. It stopped me from getting help for almost 6 years because I didn't fit into those ideas. To me I was just being over dramatic because 'these things don't happen to me'”

headspace Gladstone Centre Manager Lois Auld, said that spending time and getting to know people impacted by mental health issues, hearing their stories and understanding their experiences helps to change negative attitudes, reduce fear and social distance.

“The other is education – providing information and knowledge about mental health issues and the benefits of seeking help and seeking help early,” she said.

To combat stigma, headspace Gladstone will officially launch a vital local awareness campaign aimed at informing our community that the more we talk openly about mental health issues, the easier it becomes for young people to seek help for them.

To kick start the campaign, headspace Gladstone has constructed a Big Stigma at their Lead Agency’s Head Office, Roseberry Community Services, 159 Goondoon Street, Gladstone. This will be launched on 27th July, 2016 at 1pm.

From Wednesday 27th July, invited members of the community will assist in tearing down the Big Stigma by sharing local mental health stories and identifying myths around mental health.  This will be done by removing a piece of the stigma from the structure– a panel from its outer shell, containing information about mental health issues and how to seek help for them.

As we tear down the stigma, piece by piece and we talk about mental health, the smaller the stigma gets.

The campaign will be bolstered by a digital hub, complete with a virtual stigma to tear down and links to resources and tools for friends and family seeking to support youth with mental health issues:

Roseberry Community Services and headspace, encourages all Australians to use #thebigstigma in all forms of social media to get the conversation going, and to help tear down #thebigstigma.

The statistics:

  • 4 in every 16 young people experience a mental health issue and 3 of those 4 won’t get the help they need.
  • In the first 3 months of being open, headspace Gladstone has had over 500 visits from young people.
  • The main reasons young people have come to headspace is about feeling sad or stressed.
  • 90% of visits have been from 12-20 year olds.  We are reaching out to 20-25 year olds to also access the service.
  • 46% have been males, 50% females and 4% other.

If you are having a tough time contact headspace on 07 4903 1921 or