I am writing from the not-for-profit Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia to urge people in your local area – who have mental health issues – to reach out and get help.

We know there is a lot of help out there. We know not enough people are accessing that help.

Our latest awareness initiative highlights that mental illness is much more common than many people might think.

Data reveals 45 per cent of all Australians will experience a mental disorder at some point. In the past 12 months alone, one in five Australians has experienced a mental health disorder.

For instance, 50 per cent of people with schizophrenia now attempt suicide. The ridiculous myths around this condition need to be busted. It is completely unacceptable that people with schizophrenia are likely to live 19 years less than people who do not have the condition. Tragically, this gap continues to widen.

Around 700,000 Australians have a severe mental illness.

We want people to realise they are not alone and support is actually out there.

The Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia has a free phoneline to offer people advice on where to get more support. All local people need to do is call 1800 985 944 or visit minetworks.org.au.

Tony Stevenson, chief executive officer, Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia.

If you need support, talk to a GP or health professional. Support services include: SANE Australia on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or sane.org, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or beyondblue.org.au and Lifeline on 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au.