By: Amy Cheng
Many people with a mental illness are excluded from community, discriminated against and can’t access the mental health care they need, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
On World Mental Health Day, the WHO focused on raising awareness of mental health issues around the world.
Each year, there is a different theme celebrated and this year’s theme is “mental health is a universal human right”.
“Mental health is a basic human right for all people. Everyone, whoever and wherever they are, has a right to the highest attainable standard of mental health,” the WHO said on its website.
“This includes the right to be protected from mental health risks, the right to available, accessible, acceptable, and good quality care, and the right to liberty, independence and inclusion in the community.”
Good mental health is vital
WHO believes that good mental health is “vital to our overall health and well-being” but one in eight people globally are living with mental health conditions.
“Having a mental health condition should never be a reason to deprive a person of their human rights or to exclude them from decisions about their own health.
“Yet all over the world, people with mental health conditions continue to experience a wide range of human rights violations.
“Many are excluded from community life and discriminated against, while many more cannot access the mental health care they need or can only access care that violates their human rights.”
World Mental Health Day began in 1992, when the World Federation for Mental Health and the World Health Organization declared it as an international day to educate the public about mental health and decrease the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
“All over the world, people with mental health conditions continue to experience a wide range of human rights violations,” – World Health Organization
Many Australians have experienced a mental disorder
More than two in five Australians aged between 16 and 85 have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics last Thursday.
The data, from the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, shows a view of mental health in the community between 2020 and 2022.
The study surveyed close to 16,000 Australians and was funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care as part of the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study.
The results showed that one in five Australians experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months, which included 1.1 million young adults between the ages of 16 and 24.
Linda Fardell, ABS head of health statistics, said in a statement that anxiety was the most common group of mental disorders.
“More than one in six Australians had an anxiety disorder such as social phobia or post-traumatic stress disorder in the previous 12 months.
“Almost half of young females and one third of young males aged 16 to 24 years had a mental disorder in this period, with anxiety disorders being the most common.”
One in five Australians experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months, according to ABS data.
Managing mental health
Nearly a quarter of Australians aged between 16 and 34, or 22.9 per cent of those surveyed, had at least one consultation with a health professional for their mental health in the last 12 months.
“8.2 per cent of people in this age group also accessed other services for their mental health including treatment programs, crisis support, counselling, support groups and chat rooms,” Ms Fardell said.
“Almost half of all people who had a mental disorder in the previous 12 months saw a health professional for their mental health and one in seven accessed other services.”
Maintaining good mental health
Mental Health Australia, the peak not-for-profit organisation representing the mental health sector in Australia, is leading the World Mental Health Day campaign in Australia this year.
As part of its campaign, it is encouraging Australians to focus on “awareness, belonging, connection” – raising awareness by learning about mental health and caring for others, finding belonging by looking out for each other and staying connected through services.
Mental Health Australia suggests the following 10 tips to maintain good mental health.
- Stay active
- Eat well
- Connect with others
- Do something you enjoy each day
- Limit media consumption
- Keep to a routine
- Get an early night
- Be kind to yourself
- Maintain perspective
- Seek help when needed