NEW figures have revealed one in five Australians believe people experiencing anxiety ‘put it on’ to avoid difficult or uncomfortable situations and around half of Australians don’t know basic facts about the condition.
This week, beyondblue’s revamped Get To Know Anxiety campaign will launch on TV, radio and online featuring Australia’s own Aussie actor Guy Pearce, who provided the voice over for the campaign.
A snapshot survey of 1200 Australians by research agency TNS Australia revealed that most people were aware of anxiety as a mental health condition, but damaging attitudes and discrimination still remain, with almost half agreeing that people with anxiety are judged or discriminated against.
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said she was encouraged to find that 80 per cent of the people surveyed acknowledged it was a real condition, 45 per cent understood it affected a significant proportion of the population and 62 per cent agreed anxiety could be cured.
“A quarter of us will experience anxiety at some point, so it is concerning that roughly half of us still have either misconceptions or are unaware of the condition, its symptoms and treatment,” she said.
“Anxiety is not just feeling stressed or worried, it is when these feelings don’t subside and are ongoing without any particular reason or cause. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings can’t be easily controlled.
“This is the third year of the campaign and it seems like some parts of the message are getting through but we need to keep the effort up. While it is great to see improvements in public awareness, what is of great concern is the number of people who have no knowledge about anxiety. Large numbers of people said they don’t know facts about the condition, which shows there is a lot of confusion and we are working to reduce that.
“It is not just the relatively small number of harmful and incorrect attitudes we are working to change, but the larger proportion of the public who are unaware that anxiety can be effectively be managed and treated.
“Anxiety can be effectively managed through a range of treatments that can ensure a person learns how to control their anxiety, rather than let it control them.”
The survey results revealed:
• Half of those surveyed either didn’t know (33%) or incorrectly believed (14%) that anxiety was part of someone’s personality
• More than a third (37 per cent) didn’t know if anxiety could be successfully treated
• 40 per cent of the population said they don’t know how prevalent anxiety is, or incorrectly thought only a small proportion were affected (14%).
Mr Pearce has previously spoken publicly about his experiences of anxiety in the early days of his acting career and happily participated in the beyondblue campaign.
“I am very pleased to be involved in beyondblue’s campaign to raise awareness of anxiety, which I know can affect anyone regardless of their age, their employment or where they live,” he said.
“I have lived with anxiety ever since being a child and know how easy it is to be overwhelmed by the physical and mental symptoms described in this campaign. I am giving my full support to encourage people to identify symptoms, seek treatment, and move on to more fulfilling lives.”
For further information about anxiety, visit beyondblue.org.au/anxiety.
Mental health professionals are available at the beyondblue Support Service via phone 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support for online chat (3pm-12am AEST) or email responded (within 24 hours).