Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (22 October) . . Page.. 3890 ..
MS MacDONALD (continuing):
4 to 17 years have some form of mental health problem. The consequences of leaving these mental health problems untreated can be disastrous, resulting in future problems, additional strain on the health system and youth suicide. Researchers found that youth suicide is a leading cause of death among young people, second only to motor vehicle accidents, and suicide rates among 15 to 24-year-old males have trebled between 1960 and 1990.
While suicide is rare in children under 14 years old, it becomes much more common during adolescence. Research has found that the rise in suicide is most rapid between the ages of 15 to 19 years, but there is a further increase between the ages of 20 to 24 years.
Claire Kelly from the Centre for Mental Health's seminar "Beyond Blue: Youth Suicide Prevention"offered invaluable advice to expo visitors, including: what is the difference between "normal"adolescent behaviour and signs of emotional problems; how can I tell if my teenager may be thinking about suicide; basic help-giving skills; and how to ask the "right"questions at the "right"time?
How to reduce stress and anxiety in your life and improving overall health and wellbeing were also important aspects of the "Keeping YOUth Alive"expo. A recent US study conducted at the Mayo Clinic, a leading health facility, found that people who expect misfortune and focus on the darker side of life don't live as long as those with a more positive outlook. For those who find it easier said than done, however, the "Balancing Your Life Between Work and Play"expo seminar given by Dr Dion Klein and "Goal Setting in Life"presented by Janice Needham informed visitors on the best ways to achieve balance and harmony in their lives.
The Stanhope Labor government is committed to improving health and fitness levels in the ACT and this can be seen through its support of Fitness ACT. The establishment of an ACT health and medical research council, funding for the health and medical research support program, the development of the ACT health action plan and the mental health strategy and action plan are further evidence of this. But still more has to be done because the message is just not getting out there and sinking in.
Mr Speaker, I would add at this point on a personal note that I do not find that surprising because there are so many conflicting and confusing messages out there being given to all of our society that it is sometimes difficult to know which is the correct one. I urge the Assembly to recognise the importance of promoting and encouraging health and fitness in the ACT. I ask all members to try to encourage residents in their communities to try to eat a more balanced diet and to move more.
Mr Speaker, on a personal note I can say that I know it is not easy. I do not consider that I am at the correct weight at the moment-I believe that I am in the overweight category. I have been in the obese category and I managed to lose a large amount of weight, thereby improving my health. (Extension of time granted.)
I know it is difficult. It is often easier just to sit and not find the ways to increase exercise. It does look daunting when you get to the point of being obese. But I think it is important to try to encourage people by giving positive messages and telling them that it can be done. There are plenty of ways to improve our health. It is just a matter of giving people the right messages and getting those messages out there.