Unlocking the power of nutrition for mental health in Australia


Nutrition plays a significant role in our mental well-being, yet its potential within Australia’s mental healthcare system remains largely untapped.

Recognising this, Dietitians Australia has released a groundbreaking guide highlighting the transformative impact of nutrition therapy on mental health.

Titled “Nourishing the Mind, Body and Brain Evidence Brief 2024,” the guide presents evidence-based strategies to integrate dietetic and nutrition services into Australia’s health care framework effectively. According to Dietitians Australia President Tara Diversi this initiative aims to revolutionise how we address mental health challenges across the country.

“Our healthcare system needs to adapt to meet the complex needs of individuals living with mental health conditions,” Diversi said. “That includes ensuring Accredited Practising Dietitians take the leading role within multidisciplinary teams when it comes to providing effective, evidence-based dietary therapy for the prevention, treatment and management of mental health conditions their symptoms and commonly co-occurring physical illnesses.”

The evidence brief underscores the potential of dietary interventions in alleviating depressive symptoms. Research indicates that improving the quality of food intake can lead to the remission of depression in some individuals. Moreover, poor dietary habits increase the risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders, emphasising the importance of nutrition guidance for mental well-being.

Despite these insights, pathways for Australians to access nutrition therapy and dietetic services through Medicare are limited. Dietitians Australia calls for the inclusion of individual and group consultations with Accredited Practising Dietitians in Medicare and other funding programs to support individuals with mental health conditions comprehensively.

Currently, Medicare item numbers for accessing dietetic services are restricted to individuals with eating disorders and certain chronic health conditions. However, the economic and societal burden of mental health conditions, estimated at over $70 billion annually, underscores the urgent need for holistic interventions.

Diversi emphasises the pivotal role of dietitians in transforming mental health care and advocates for enhanced support to nourish the minds, bodies, and brains of all Australians. “Dietitians stand ready to play a poignant role in transforming the way we manage mental health care in this country and will continue to advocate for ways we can better nourish the minds, bodies and brains of all Australians.”

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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