How many Australians suffer from mental health illnesses?

Published 22 May 2018

Attitudes to mental health have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, yet many people still believe there is a stigma surrounding the issue that can prevent sufferers from seeking help.

Psychological illnesses often cause strain in personal relationships and regularly result in physical symptoms. Mental health problems can also be severe enough that an individual may have to take extensive time off work, or – in extreme examples – be unable ever to return to their jobs.

But more Australians experience mental health disorders than you may think, which is why people should never be too embarrassed to discuss their problems with friends, family and specialists. You may even find loved ones have been fighting similar battles of their own.

A snapshot of mental health research in Australia

The proportion of Australians who reportedly have mental health problems varies depending on the particular study or survey. Nevertheless, there are broad similarities in the research.

Mental health charities Mindframe, the Black Dog Institute and beyondblue say approximately 20 per cent of Australians suffer from a psychological illness in any given year. The basis for this claim is likely an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) study that found one in five people in the country reported a mental disorder in 2007.

Common problems include depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. According to Mindframe, mental health issues are responsible for 27 per cent of the total years lost to disability in the country, making it the third leading cause of impairment.

A growing number of young people appear to be suffering from serious mental health problems. A recent Mission Australia survey found nearly 23 per cent of teenagers aged between 15 and 19 met the necessary symptoms for psychological conditions. This was up from 19 per cent in 2012.

Financial support for out-of-work Australians

The ABS research found 45 per cent of people aged between 16 and 85 will suffer a psychological problem at some point in their life.

Financial assistance is often available to people who may need to take time off work for these problems. For example, income support can help claimants cope with financial obligations while suffering from short-term psychological issues.

Individuals experiencing debilitating mental health conditions may also be eligible for total and permanent disability payments.

If you would like to learn more about the financial benefits open to those with mental health disorders who are unable to work, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Superannuation Lawyers.

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