Former West Australian Premier Geoff Gallop says we “need an educated, caring and compassionate community” to counter the stigma around mental illness.
Dr Gallop, who stepped down from office in 2006 after revealing a battle with depression, was the keynote speaker at this year’s AFFIRM Business Luncheon at the National Press Club in Canberra.
He says many people suffer in silence.
“Perhaps he or she knows from experience that despite the pronouncements from on high others still believe he or she would show weakness by admitting illness and seeking help,” Dr Gallop said. “More importantly he or she may think disclosure will impact on life chances generally. It’s that prejudice thing!”
By not talking about their struggle, people aren’t able to benefit from available remedies. “It’s grim – and so grim for some they take their own lives,” said Dr Gallop.
He believes we need a greater social acceptance of people with mental illness. “Too many of us still jump to conclusions before all the evidence is presented. Too many of us still find it hard to accept that being free of negative thoughts doesn’t just involve the flicking of a switch,” he said.