Mental health findings prompt call for Govt action

Mark O’Brien

NEW research revealing anxiety and depressive disorders as the leading cause of disability in young Australians has fuelled fresh calls for the Federal Government to deliver on its election pledge to make mental health a priority.

The study, published in the MJA, found disability prevalence rates increased by almost 50% from younger adolescence to young adulthood, with mental health identified as the most common factor.

According to the research, carried out by the University of Queensland, eating disorders made a “significant contribution” to mental disability in young women, while ADHD and autism caused more disability in younger adolescents than in older adolescents and young adults.

In response, the Mental Health Council of Australia has urged the Federal Government to fulfil its election commitment to “make mental health a major second term agenda”.

Council spokesperson Simon Tatz requested the government ensure appropriate attention be given to the disability-related effects of mental illness during discussions about a future no-fault disability care and support scheme.

“This latest research highlighting the impact of anxiety and depression in young people adds to the weight of evidence that government action is urgently needed to address the chronic under-funding in mental health services,” he said.

MJA 2011; 194:232-35