New figures have revealed one in five Australians believes people experiencing anxiety ‘put it on’ to avoid facing difficult or uncomfortable situations. Also, around half of Australians don’t know basic facts about anxiety
beyondblue’s revamped Get To Know Anxiety campaign has launched on TV, radio and online featuring internationally-acclaimed Australian actor Guy Pearce, who provided the voice-over for the ads.
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 anxiety 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 available treatment,” she said.
“Anxiety is not just feeling stressed or worried, it becomes a problem when these feelings don’t subside and are ongoing. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, feelings such as a tight chest, racing heart and panic attacks, can't be controlled easily.
“This is the third year of the campaign and some parts of the message are getting through, but we need to keep up the effort. While it is great to see improvements in public awareness, what is of greater concern is the number of people who have no knowledge about anxiety. A large number of people said they don’t know the facts about the condition, which indicates there is a lot of confusion about this common mental health condition and beyondblue is working to reduce that.
“It is not just the relatively small number of harmful and incorrect attitudes we are working to change, but we need to influence a large proportion of the public which is unaware that anxiety can be treated and managed successfully.
“Anxiety can be managed effectively 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 treated successfully
- 40 per cent of the population said they don’t know how prevalent anxiety is, or incorrectly thought only a small proportion was 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 (response within 24 hours).