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The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the results from the first cohort of the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, which collected data from over 5,500 people aged 16 to 85 years from December 2020 to July 2021. Initial results from the first national survey of mental health and wellbeing in 14 years has confirmed the growing importance of mental health services, with Australians seeking mental health support more than ever before.

The results of the national study show many Australians are taking steps to look after their mental health. The key findings include:

  • 15% of adults experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress in the four weeks before their interview.
  • Almost two-thirds (61%) of adults took actions to improve their own mental health in the last 12 months, including increasing exercise and physical activity (37%), positive thinking (29%) and increasing enjoyable activities (28%).
  • 3.4 million adults reported seeing a health professional for their mental health in the last 12 months, and 612,000 adults used other phone and digital mental health services, such as crisis support or counselling, online treatment programs, or support groups and forums.

Mental health and suicide prevention remain a high priority for the Morrison Government. Through the 2021-22 Budget, the Morrison Government is investing a record $2.3 billion in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan to deliver landmark reform in mental health support and treatment for Australians in need.

The Morrison Government was quick to recognise and respond to the rise in mental health issues caused by the pandemic and associated restrictions, especially among children and young people.

Since March last year, the Government has provided more than $1 billion in funding to expand mental health services in response to the pandemic, including a substantial investment in telehealth.

As well as extending Medicare subsidies to telehealth mental health services, funding to key service providers such as headspace, Lifeline, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline has been boosted.

Walk-in mental health clinics in Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT, with a national network now in development have now been set up.

The National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing will provide deeper and more detailed understanding of the mental health challenges facing Australians, and how they manage these challenges.

It will be vital for planning services at the local and national level as the Government continues to reform mental health and preventive health—one of the four pillars of Australia’s Long Term National Health Plan.

The survey of mental health is one of seven separate surveys which will make up the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study (IHMHS). The Morrison Government has provided $89.5 million to the ABS to conduct the study, including data collection from 2020 to 2022.

Australians looking for support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic can access the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Wellbeing Support Service any time via telephone at 1800 512 348 or online at coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au.

Anyone experiencing distress can also seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.

If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone who is considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467 or www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au

 

Original content from The Hon Greg Hunt MP media page. Note: Content has been edited for style and length.

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