Territory Stories

The Northern Territory news Sat 21 May 2022



The Northern Territory news Sat 21 May 2022

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NT news


The Northern Territory news; NewspaperNT






Community newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.; Australian newspapers -- Northern Territory -- Darwin.

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News Corp Australia

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Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

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News Corp Australia



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26 WEEKEND Saturday May 21 2022 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 Just as telling as the number of girls feeling challenged by their mental health is the response by health experts. None of them is surprised by those high numbers. Sydney GP Dr Danielle McMullen is the president of the NSW division of the Australian Medical Association (AMA). My waiting room is full of everyone struggling with their mental health, she says. And I think at least 80 per cent of my GP consultations across all age groups have a mental health aspect at the moment. So Id say that doesnt surprise me. In addition to specific diagnosable mental illness, a level of stress has been sitting over the whole community, and the impact of that should not be underestimated, she says. It can have physical and mental consequences. It can be really debilitating. And whole communities can feel anxious, feel worried, feel stress. That can impact teens, who are also feeling the stress around the pandemic and worrying about the climate and their futures. At the moment, theyre worried about those big issues and the acute stress of financial strain and how to get through the Covid crisis the same way the rest of us are, McMullen says. Outside waiting rooms and inside classrooms, educators see the insidious and widespread impact of the mental health challenge being faced by their students. It keeps Australian Secondary Principals Association president Andrew Pierpoint awake at night. I think mental health has been on a very, very slippery slope for many, many years long before we ever knew what the word Covid meant, he says. Its been fertilised by heavy workloads, how society sees itself, and the pervasive nature of social media. The workload at school now is crazy; its absolutely out of control, he says. Add teens busy schedules, including parttime jobs, and there is no downtime. No balance. I magine 1000 students packed into one room. Theyre all 16 and 17 and 18, and you have one question for them: Whats the biggest challenge you face? They all scribble down an answer, and you ask those who nominated a mental health issue to move to one side of the room. Those who wrote those two words mental health move first, and then those who nominated anxiety and then eating disorders and then depression and isolation, body image, stress and panic attacks all shuffle to one side. Soon one side of the room is not big enough, and they spill back to where they were. About 700 of them. Thats how many respondents about seven in 10 tagged mental health, or something that broadly fitted that description, when answering that question. Seven out of 10. While time management, passing maths, motivation, balancing everything, the future and external exams popped up many times, most girls saw their key challenge as relating to how they viewed their mental health. Answers like: My mental health. Anxiety. My perfectionist tendencies. Body image. Getting up every day and dealing with everything going on. Managing my anxiety and learning to not let my intuitive thoughts overwhelm me and impact my life. Thinking about things too much. Living with depression. Anorexia. Attention deficit disorder. My inner anorexia demons. Many havent been diagnosed, and that means that how they feel doesnt fit into any neat little box. I would say I really struggle with mental health challenges, one girl explained. I am not diagnosed with anything like depression or anxiety, which makes me feel really confused and left in the dark because I know that I struggle quite badly but I dont have any real issues that can mess with me. Extract MADONNA KING In 2021, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame also threw a light on the struggle of many female students, and the pressures they could face. A girl in any Year 12 classroom will be thinking of a whole lot of stuff that you and I would not have thought about [while] sitting in class, Pierpoint says. This can be a tough road for parents, and for daughters. Not all girls tell their parents about their struggles: how they feel they cant breathe as they walk into the school grounds, or how each morning the small spot of sickness in their stomach overpowers their appetite and everything around them. Not all girls understand how or why they might be feeling the way they are. Their marks are good. Their friendship groups are strong. So whats wrong with them? And not all families have the resources to seek a diagnosis or access psychologists, whose waiting lists are growing longer and longer. The moniker mental health is a tricky one too. Its very broad, psychologist Amanda Abel says. All the mental health challenges are lumped under the banner of mental health. Josie Tucker, a Kids Helpline counsellor, says the breadth of mental health is much larger than the specific diagnoses or pathologies that might be used for the term. Particularly [at the ages of] about 15 to 16, you see a lot of emerging mental health issues from a diagnostic lens. But larger than that, what youre also seeing is just mental ill-health emerging. You see patterns and ways of thinking. You see, particularly with the development of self-esteem and sense of self, that mental health and mental wellness really rise to the forefront, Tucker says. For this group in particular, they move a bit faster than their male counterparts so they are thinking often in a lot more depth about who they are and how they exist in the world and who they want to be within that. And if they are struggling with their self-esteem or with their peer group or with the pressures that theyre experiencing in their lives, it certainly has an impact on their mental wellbeing. Tucker says mental health is a strong focus for Kids Helpline counsellors dealing with teenagers. Teenage girls say mental health is the biggest challenge they face. This alarming revelation comes as no surprise to health experts but they say there are strategies to help the girls are not ok Author and mother of two daughters, Madonna King.

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