Skip to main content

Comments on the draft report on the state of Australia's mental health

Mental illness is costing the Australian economy $51b a year.

A recent report by the Australian Government, Productivity Commission has revealed that mental illness is costing the Australian economy an estimated $43 – 51 Billion a year. While only a conservative estimate, these figures do not include the added cost associated with the diminished health and reduced life expectancy of those living with mental ill-health. The first draft of the report is currently in review and outlines the Government's agenda for tackling and improving the mental health and wellbeing of the Australian population. 

Some of the key findings of the draft report on the state of mental health in Australia:

  • One in five Australians will experience mental ill-health.
  • Nearly 50% of all Australians will meet the criteria for a mental illness at some point in their life. 
  • Close to 75% of those who develop mental ill-health will have their first experience before the age of 25.
  • Many Australians are not receiving the level of care necessary, resulting in additional physical and mental distress that could be otherwise prevented. 

What’s driving our poor mental health outcomes?

Some of the key factors driving the poor outcomes in Australia’s mental health system is the underinvestment in prevention and early intervention. Too often we focus on tackling mental-ill health once it presents itself or becomes an issue. The difficulties many then face in both finding and accessing suitable support only adds to the challenges we have. 

Despite efforts by Government, Charities, Businesses and Communities to raise awareness of mental health and increase the numbers of people seeking support, there is still some stigma and discrimination experienced by individuals with a mental health condition and those who support them. 

Where to from here?

In order to address our poor mental health outcomes, reform changes are needed and more should be done at an early age to raise awareness and provide appropriate support services for those experiencing mental ill-health, including improved follow-up for individuals experiencing mental ill-health or who have attempted suicide. 
Making support services and resources more easily accessible is also important. Given the vast landscape of Australia, mental health services need to be delivered in a variety of modalities such as text, video, telephone or face-to-face counselling, all of which are available here at Benestar. 

Following the review, we hope that the final report will recommend the development of mental health laws and regulations that respects human rights and promotes the appropriate and suitable access to support services as required. 

Mental health policies and strategies should ensure that mental health is a nationwide priority and that support services can be accessed from every corner of the country. 

We need to maximise the positive outcome for individuals with a mental health condition and work hard at supporting them at home, in the community and at work. The provision of appropriate treatment, care and support through better mental health services and by tapping into untapped community resources is required. By doing this people experiencing mental ill-health will receive the treatment they require in order to live a happy and productive life.