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Mental ill-health and suicide cost Australia nearly $500 million per day

Mental ill-health and suicide cost Australia nearly $500 million per day

The Productivity Commission estimates that mental ill-health and suicide are costing Australia up to $180 billion per year and treatment and services are not meeting community expectations.

“Mental ill-health has huge impacts on people, communities and our economy but mental health is treated as an add-on to the physical health system. This has to change,” Productivity Commission Chair, Michael Brennan said.

The report on mental health released by the Productivity Commission emphasises the need for better support for young people.

“75% of those who develop mental illness first experience symptoms before they turn 25, and mental ill-health in critical schooling and employment years has long lasting effects for not only your job prospects but many aspects of your life. Getting help early is key to prevention and better outcomes,” Chair Michael Brennan said.

Over their lifetime, one in two Australians will be affected by mental ill-health including anxiety and depression and up to a million people don’t get the help they need.

“Too many people still avoid treatment because of stigma, and too many people fall through the gaps in the system because the services they need are not available or suitable,” Productivity Commissioner, Stephen King said.

The report says that change is needed not only in the health system itself but in schools, workplaces, housing and the justice system.

The report includes a comprehensive set of reforms to reorient the mental health system to close service gaps, better target services to meet needs and focus on early intervention and prevention.

“While full scale change will take a long time, there are many changes that governments can start now. For example, follow-up after attempted suicide is proven to save lives and could be started immediately,” Chair Michael Brennan said.

The Commission recommends better support for students and teachers including appointing wellbeing leaders in all schools.

Other recommendations include more community-based services and innovative solutions such as better use of technology as well as more health professionals in some parts of the system.

“Police and paramedics should also get more assistance from mental health professionals when dealing with crisis situations,” Commissioner Stephen King said.

The Productivity Commission’s draft report on mental health can be found at www.pc.gov.au and submissions for the final report are currently being taken.

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