Psychological disabilities on the rise, ABS reveals

Published 18 Feb 2015

Mental health issues can have a significant impact on a person's life, as well as the lives of their family, friends and colleagues.

Charity beyondblue claims 1 million people in Australia suffer from depression in a given year, while a further 2 million are diagnosed with anxiety.

Unfortunately, these problems appear to be on the rise. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data revealed that the number of people who reported having a psychological disability has increased in recent years.

According to the ABS, there were 770,500 Australians with disabling mental health conditions in 2012, up from 606,000 just three years earlier. The 2012 figure represents 3.4 per cent of the country's entire population.

The ABS said psychological disabilities include people who have nervous or emotional conditions lasting six months or more; anyone suffering brain injuries, such as strokes; and those with mental illnesses who need help or supervision.

Individuals who develop psychological problems can be eligible for benefits if they make a total and permanent disability claim. Various insurance and superannuation policies pay out for a range of conditions that prevent people from returning to the workplace, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Claims for depression could become more prevalent in particular, with beyondblue stating it is currently the world's leading cause of disability.

Why is a TPD claim important?

For many people suffering a psychological disability, they may not only be missing out on a salary or their superannuation - there are a number of other related expenses.

This can include the cost associated with health care, such as medication or mobility equipment for people who have had a stroke.

"Two-thirds of all people with a psychological disability also reported having a physical disability," said ABS Assistant Director Michelle Ducat.

"Nearly half said they had 'profound levels of core activity limitation', meaning they were limited in activities such as self-care, mobility or communication, while one in five reported severe limitations."

Ms Ducat said it is therefore not surprising that individuals who have psychological disabilities often require assistance and struggle to perform day-to-day tasks. They are also less likely to participate in employment or education when compared with non-disabled people.

However, thankfully, just 1.8 per cent of respondents to the ABS survey said they were not receiving adequate assistance for their disability needs.

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