It’s not a new concern for our youth either. Data from 2007 reveals that of all Australians experiencing a mental health disorder of at least 12-month duration, more than a quarter were aged 16-24.
Under recent private health insurance reforms, young Australians can now get better access to private mental health services (there’s more on this later in the article).
This is important because young people need access to private treatment for immediate support and treatment of mental health issues and disorders. In most states (except Tasmania, ACT and NT) admissions to private hospitals for mental health related care is outstripping public hospitals.
So what’s driving so many people to seek treatment?
While the Australian Bureau of Statistics has only conducted the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing twice, the last survey in 2007 provides some insight into Australians and their mental health. With those reporting a 12-month disorder, issues categorised under ‘anxiety’ were most common. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was the most prevalent anxiety disorder in the population.
Second to this, of the 2.5 million people aged 16-24 years in 2007, 323,500 had a 12-month substance use disorder. Men had twice the rate of substance use disorders than women and of these patients, men aged 16-24 were most common, followed by the 25-34 age bracket.
Anxiety disorders were the most commonly reported mental health issue for females.
The most common reason in 2016-17 for same-day admission to private health care was ‘major affective and other mood disorders’ and there were more women than men in this category. Overall, the 25-34 age bracket was the second most admitted demographic in the same period.
There are a number of contributing factors for this spike in diagnosis and treatment, though pinning down specifics is difficult.
We know that, for example, young people with parents who suffer from mental illnesses and disorders are more likely to suffer themselves. And children from dysfunctional families are also at greater risk.
We also know that drug and alcohol abuse can trigger manic or psychotic episodes. Trauma, stress and other biological factors can contribute to poor mental health too.
Stay on top of your mental health
There are preventative measures you can take to avert a decline in your mental health.
Exercise and a balanced diet are both known aids for keeping your head in check. Keeping active helps produce chemicals that boost your mood, and kick start the parts of your brain where memory and learning happen.
Make use of art, listen to music, or even keep a journal to help gather your thoughts and express yourself. Take up a hobby and set small, achievable goals – and don’t give up on them. Small wins can have a big impact on your mood.
But if you’re struggling to cope you should seek professional help.
Private health insurance
With the recent changes in private health insurance, accessing the treatment you need has become easier.
People who’ve held lower levels of hospital cover for at least two months can now make a one-off upgrade in cover to immediately access hospital psychiatric services without a waiting period.
This is a valuable change that will help many young people get treatment for serious mental health conditions.