Wednesday, 9 October 2013


“Mental health is often missing from public health debates even though it's critical to wellbeing.” - Diane Abbott

This week is Mental Health Week, with World Mental Health Day tomorrow, October 10. A number of high profile Australians are supporting this health initiative this year, with celebrities, business people, politicians, sporting stars and organisations making a personal mental health promise. The purpose is to achieve three objectives:
  1. Break down stigma, and convince people that mental illness is something that can be dealt with effectively, just like any other illness;
  2. Bring communities together and get them talking about mental health and sharing their experiences;
  3. Encourage people to seek help when they need it.

The impact of mental illness within the Australian population has become increasingly apparent. The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that an estimated 3.2 million Australians (20% of the population aged between 16 and 85) had a mental disorder in the twelve months prior to the survey. The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003 study indicated that mental disorders constitute the leading cause of disability burden in Australia, accounting for an estimated 24% of the total years lost due to disability.

The onset of mental illness is typically around mid-to-late adolescence and Australian youth (18-24 years old) have the highest prevalence of mental illness than any other age group. Common mental illnesses in young Australians are: Anxiety disorders (14%), depressive disorders (6%) and substance use disorders (5%). About 65% of people with mental illness do not access any treatment. This is worsened by delayed treatment due to serious problems in detection and accurate diagnosis. The proportion of people with mental illness accessing treatment is half that of people with physical disorders.

According to new research by the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA), four out of ten Australians who use mental health services are very satisfied with them. This research shows that there is a lot of good news for those who experience mental illness in Australia. It is a particularly encouraging fact for those who may be thinking about seeking help. The MHCA is calling on people to make and share their mental health promise, to encourage more people to open up about mental health. Anyone can make a promise at this website:

1 comment:

  1. Something we often forget when we think of "health"...