The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals a growing mental health crisis in younger Australians, and a system that is struggling to cope under the pressure.
The figures show that 38.8 percent of people aged 16–24 years reported a 12-month mental disorder, an increase of nearly 50 percent from figures gathered in 2007.
This increase is particularly high in young women, with 45.5 percent experiencing a mental health condition in the previous year, up from 30.1 per cent in 2007.
Even more concerning is reports from health professionals that their patients are unable to access care and that the system is “not coping” - and with Australia failing to record data on the average waiting times for mental health care we don’t understand the size of the problem.
Quotes attributable to Australians for Mental Health Executive Director, Chris Gambian:
“This data should be a wakeup call for governments, businesses, service providers, and the whole community: Australia is living through a mental health crisis, and we don’t have the systems in place to solve it.
“Young people are on the front line of the mental health crisis, and they simply cannot adequately access the services they need, when and where they need them.
“Right now, young people around the country are struggling to access care. Whether that’s because they live in the bush and are isolated without the ability to connect to services, or they are languishing on waiting lists, can’t afford the care they need, or just can’t get the right kind of care that understands their needs.
“What’s worse is that while we understand this is a massive problem, we have no idea of the true size and cost because Australia fails to record waitlist data for mental health.
“Australians for Mental Health is calling for the urgent rollout of a centralised system for mental healthcare waitlists.
“It is unacceptable that we still don’t have real-time data on the scale of the mental healthcare needs of the Australian community.
“With a better understanding of the problem, we can design solutions, create services and allocate funding in ways that will have the most impact.
“And most importantly, governments can be accountable for ensuring that the mental health needs of Australians and met, and Australians can lead better lives.”