The ABC’s Four Corners has reported that an analysis of the nation’s statistics reveals there are more people than ever suffering from mental illness.
The ABC has found the number of Australians with a mental illness has doubled in the past decade.
Dr Mark Higgs is the lead author of the study, which examined the numbers of people with a major mental illness in each state and territory.
He said mental health was a complex issue, with some people suffering from “negative outcomes” such as poor social skills, self-harm and substance misuse.
Dr Higgs said the study did not attempt to pinpoint specific causes of mental illness and that it did not establish causality between the two.
“We can’t pinpoint what the causes are, we can’t know which causes are most prevalent, and we don’t know what the impact of those causes are on people’s mental health,” he said.
“So we’ve looked at a number of different variables and the evidence is mixed.”
Dr Higgens said he was concerned that some of the findings would be used to “misinterpret the problem” in the media.
The study found the rate of mental health problems among Australians aged 15 to 24 increased from 13.6 per cent in 2004 to 16.3 per cent by 2015. “
And I think it’s important that people are aware that it is possible that some outcomes are actually beneficial, because otherwise we’re just not seeing the full picture.”
The study found the rate of mental health problems among Australians aged 15 to 24 increased from 13.6 per cent in 2004 to 16.3 per cent by 2015.
However, Dr Higsons study also found that between 2009 and 2015, there was a significant increase in the number and type of mental illnesses.
In 2014, there were a total of 1.25 million people with at least one mental illness (which includes those with bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis and other psychotic disorders).
In 2015, that number had increased to 1.37 million people.
In the same period, the number with depression and substance abuse disorders increased from 1.22 million to 1,922,000.
Mental illness is not an illness that can be cured Dr Higmys study also highlighted that the rate at which people in some parts of the country were experiencing mental health crises was more than double the national average.
He noted that in the Northern Territory, which is home to most of the Australian population, the rate was 5.7 per cent.
Dr Tom Dennison, the director of the National Mental Health Institute at the University of Tasmania, said there was “very limited” research into mental health in Australia.
“There’s a lot more we don,t know than what the media reports, and there are very few people that have access to quality mental health care, and that’s a major reason why we haven’t really done much,” Dr Dennisons said.
He also said there were “very few indicators that would suggest that mental health services are working well”.
The ABC contacted the Australian Mental Health Commission (AMHC), the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Department of Health and Disability Services (DHDS).
A DHDS spokesperson said the data provided by the study was “based on an analysis by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other sources”.
“The information is consistent with the findings of other research that have focused on the prevalence and trends of mental disorders,” the spokesperson said.
A DHSS spokesperson said: “The data we have available are based on data collected by the National Survey of Mental Health in Australia (NSMHA), and we can confirm that the national rate of major mental illnesses is much lower than previously estimated.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Ageing said: “[The DHSS] work closely with all the relevant agencies and stakeholders in their areas of responsibility and we will continue to monitor the data to ensure we are delivering services and strategies that meet the needs of Australians and are sustainable.”
‘Too many’ The study also examined whether people who reported experiencing major mental health issues were more likely to seek help.
Dr Denny van der Merwe, a professor of social work at the Melbourne Institute of Technology and the lead researcher of the paper, said the results showed that the number reporting mental health difficulties was rising “particularly in young people, particularly in the under-18s”.
Dr Dennett said the figures were consistent with earlier research, which had also found a rise in mental health disorders in young adults.
“What we’ve been finding in research is that young people are much more likely than adults to report experiencing a mental health issue, particularly for mental health conditions,” Dr Hennings said.
Dr van der merwe said this was due to “very poor social and communication skills”.
“It is very clear that young adults are much less likely to engage in social and emotional support when they’re experiencing mental illness,” Dr van de Merwe said.