All the world over, there’s an increasing awareness for mental health. This is a development from many decades of the relegation of mental issues to the background in contrast to other health concerns, especially physical health. These days, there’s hardly a health condition that gains so much attention as Australia’s mental health.
In Australia, there are a plethora of published statistics that describe mental health. Here are a few: a 2007 Survey estimated that 7.3 million Australians are likely to fall victim of a common mental disorder or substance abuse disorder in their life span;
Against the backdrop of these facts, the Australia government has swung into actions noticeably through various health policies and programs. It’s Workforce Strategy is a 10-year plan on recognising major workforce challenges to provide effective mental health support to help workers cope with these challenges.
Furthermore, there’s the Health Plan to consolidate the erstwhile four National Mental Health Plans. This, unlike the 10-year plan mentioned above, is a five-year plan with a core mandate of building a cohesive mental health system. This building, however, is in partnership with states extant policies and plans to sensitise for mental health issues, advocacy against suicide etc. In achieving all of these, Australia’s health minister has a significant role to play.
In acknowledgement of the need to improve the standard of Australia’s mental health, the government proposed the a reform for mental health. This reform is to span across a total of 10 years. During which governments at all levels will work hand-in-hand to better the lives of victims of mental health disorders, their families and host communities.
For effective implementation, a working group was set up with the responsibility of achieving these major goals; making available statistical data for mental health to all and sundry; developing indicators to measure the success of Australia’s overall reform versus the Roadmap; and, developing the fifth National Mental Health plan subject to the COAG.
Besides the different policies put in place, there are also ongoing researches in Australia. Without a doubt, the essence of research in combating medical ailments cannot be overemphasised. While many kinds of research in the past was dedicated to physical sickness, research knowledge is scarce as far as mental health is concerned. Coming to aid is the action by the Australian government, which injects a huge sum of $125 million for over ten years to sponsor innovative research in the field of mental health.
As earlier hinted, there is scarce research knowledge in this field, and thus, Australians are at the mercy of mental health illnesses. For instance, it is reported that 3.8 million Australians between the age of 16 and 85 suffer one form of mental illness or the other yearly. As proposed, the research mission will give preference to the most recurring forms of mental health illness notably; anxiety, suicide prevention, children and young adult’s mental well being, sleeping, eating disorder to mention a few.
There’s also an advocacy for vast application of research knowledge in dealing with patients of mental health illness.
The funding is targeted to impact at least a million people who would benefit from the novel approach of dealing with mental health issues at different stages: from diagnosis to detection; treatment, and recovery.
COVID-19 has its impacts on Australia’s mental health. More unfortunate is that the pandemic came on the heels of the wildfires, which occasioned significant destruction. The effect of the pandemic for mental health although only severely affected people with mental health sickness history yet individuals without prior mental health history slipped into depression, anxieties, sleeping disorder, uncertainty about the future as a result of the lockdown imposed. The report shows that this is rife among the adolescent population since the pandemic commenced, and it is the only reason there is a focus on these affected group to prevent Increase in rate of mental health issues.