Commissioner calls on nation to help stop suicide

One in five Australian adults experience a mental health difficulty in any given year.
One in five Australian adults experience a mental health difficulty in any given year. John Gass

THE entire nation needs to come on board to help Australians with mental health problems and prevent suicide, the nation's Mental Health Commissioner, Professor Allan Fels, recommended on Tuesday.

Prof Fels released the first-ever national mental health report card on Tuesday - a no-holds-barred look at how the nation is actually performing in addressing mental health problems.

While the report card revealed the country was doing well "in policy", it was not performing well in "delivery".

"Every Australian will experience a mental health difficulty themselves at some stage, or they will be impacted by the experiences of someone close to them," Prof Fel said.

"One in five Australian adults experience a mental health difficulty in any given year, and an estimated 7.29 million Australians aged 16 to 85 have a lived experienced of mental illness."

Prof Fels said the report uncovered some difficult truths which would be "very difficult to walk away from"; in an effort to ensure the politicians in charge of federal and state governments actually take action on the problems.

Among the issues the report identified were:

  • The early rates of death among people with a mental illness
  • Lack of access to appropriate health services
  • Use or misuse of alcohol
  • Significant correlation between mental and physical health problems

"The statistics related to physical illness and early death among people with a mental health difficulty are appalling. Their health is worse than the general community on just about every measure," Prof Fels said.

"People with a severe mental illness have their life expectancy reduced by 25 years on average due to the increased likelihood of heart related conditions, diabetes and obesity.

"There are many contributing factors and there are no simple answers, but this demands immediate action."

The report card was welcomed by several non-government organisations, including Uniting Care and the Disability Commissioner, Graeme Innes.

Mr Innes said he was pleased to take part in Prof Fels report, and the input from people with "lived experience of mental illness" was an essential ingredient in the report.

Mental Health Minister Mark Butler noted the report was a reminder of what the 3.2 million Australians who have a mental illness face.

But he said there was significant work to be done by the states and territories to stop people with mental illnesses being discharged into homelessness.

Prof Fels said the report card called for change in 10 specific areas, including a regular national survey of people with mental health problems; improved data collection and making up to 12% of the population able to access mental health services each year.

Other recommendations included listing mental illness as a "chronic disease" to improve funding; inclusion in the national "Closing the Gap" project; and various other national initiatives.


People with a mental illness

  • Live 10-32 years less than the general population
  • 12% will also have asthma, diabetes or, sinusitis or psoriasis
  • Were three time more likely to have diabetes
  • One third were more likely to have a 'cardiovascular event' in the next five years
  • More than two and half times more likely to smoke


>> To read more lifestyle stories

Topics:  depression illness mental health suicide

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

OPINION: How my coastal paradise became a warzone

RACQ Capricorn Rescue Helicopter Service returned to Gladstone to refuel after it found a missing yacht washed up on rocks west of Middle Island this morning.

Life after dark in this beachside suburb is not what you'd expect

Higher booze prices 'best way to combat abuse'

Should taxes be raised further on alcoholic drinks?

Report examines best ways to combat alcohol and violence

8800 complaints about water, energy bills in Queensland

Maree Skellern from Tweed Heads Kindy Care showing the dramatic changes in the latest power bill.

More than $320,000 in billing adjustments

Local Partners

All aboard for reno, new menu at Little Boat Espresso

Like your fish cured in Hendricks Gin with candied bacon kransky? This cafe is adding a night menu, local craft beer and cocktails.

WATCH: NASA space station is live, see the view from above

In this picture taken from NASA's International Space Station from April 2015, the SpaceX Dragon is captured with the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm before its installation to the Harmony module.

See the world from a new perspective as space station passes Rocky

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

RECAP: The Bachelorette S2E12 - the finale

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

GEORGIA chooses Lee and leaves Matty J heartbroken.

The Bachelorette finale: Georgia declares her love for Lee

Georgia Love with The Bachelorette winner Lee Elliott.

MATTY J left heartbroken in emotional grand final.

Buy your own brothel: Scarlet Harem for sale

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: The Coast's first brothel, Scarlet Harem at Kunda Park, is up for sale.

Coast brothel madam sells up

All aboard for reno, new menu at Little Boat Espresso

Owners of Marcoola café Little Boat Espresso plan to expand Little Boat Espresso to include late nights with a new liquor licence approved for next month.

Popular cafe undergoes renovations, adds night service

Tom Cruise credits success to Scientology

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise credits his success to Scientology

Hacksaw Ridge leads AACTA Awards nominations

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

MEL Gibson's wartime drama opens in cinemas next week.

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June