Today is World Mental Health Day. Yesterday I went with Christian to Brisbane and sang some of my songs for the young people on the mental health ward at Queensland Children’s Hospital.
We performed outside in a rooftop garden with a big colourful mural on one of the walls and views of the city all around. It made me think of the mental health unit in the south-west of England I played in where the garden was a bare patch of dusty brown grass with a high wall and not a plant in sight.
People here tell me mental health services in Australia are not good but from what I’ve seen so far they are a lot better than the UK. Here you get referred to a psychologist and psychiatrist without having to have reached the point of being either suicidal or psychotic before you get any help.
For someone like me living with bipolar disorder where the chemical imbalance in my brain sometimes feels like I’m walking a tightrope over a canyon, that early support from a mental health team can mean the difference between a blip and a full-blown crisis.
Yesterday’s gig was my first mental health hospital gig in Australia, the first of many I hope.