It’s Time to Talk About Mental Health

by Peter Magee on October 25, 2016

Daniel Rod

It was recently R U OK day, a day that is designed to encourage people to talk about mental health and mental illness.

Mental illness is something that as a Family Law Practitioner, I come across every day but something that I feel remains an elephant in the room. We as lawyers are not psychologists and cannot provide clients with that advice but it doesn’t take a psychologist to understand the toll that separation can have on people. At its best, separation is awful and at worst it can lead people to taking their own lives.

An earlier post of mine spoke about mindfulness and the importance of looking after one’s self after separation here and I reiterate the healing benefits of mindfulness. I encourage you to have a look at the earlier post because it covers it in more detail than I am able to in this article.

So I pause here for a moment and ask, are you ok?

Your mental health affects so many aspects of your life:

  • Physical health;
  • Your career;
  • Your decision making;
  • Your parenting ability; and
  • Your capacity to form relationships with those around you.

Countless studies have been conducted on the effects of stress on the body and when separating, your mental health is one of the most important things you should consider. Realistically, you are making decisions that will affect you and your children for the rest of their lives and it is pivotal for you to be in a healthy frame of mind so that you can make decisions that are considered and are right for you and your children.

What people don’t often know is that if you see your General Practitioner and are experiencing some distress, they may assist you in obtaining a Mental Health Care Plan that will allow you to obtain 10 free or discounted psychological sessions.

Oftentimes people recognise the need to see a psychologist but don’t often follow through. It is difficult to discuss these things – especially when your emotions are still raw. Ultimately separation forces both parties to reconsider their lives and their future direction. As your lawyer, I can only guide you on issues of law but I also act on instructions from you. Sometimes I find that the persons that I work with that have the best outcomes are those who seek some assistance in coping through this period. Ultimately the purpose of seeing a lawyer is not to fight a proxy war against your ex because of unresolved emotional conflicts but rather to separate as best as possible. You can’t realistically do that unless you’re thinking with a clear head.

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