Monday, July 19, 2010

Frightening figures on mental disorders

One in four young Australians aged 16–24 years had a mental disorder in 2007, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. I find these statistics terrifying, particularly in regards to the lack of help sought for these conditions.

Anxiety disorders are the most common, affecting 15% of young people, with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder the most commonly experienced anxiety disorder (8%).  Substance use disorders affected 13% of young people with harmful use of alcohol the most common substance use disorder (9%).

Around 6% of young people had an affective disorder with bipolar affective disorder and depression (3% each) the most common affective disorders.

Almost one-third of young women had a mental health disorder compared with around one-quarter of young men. Young women were more likely to have anxiety or affective disorders while substance use disorders were more common among young men.

Young people with a mental disorder were more than five times as likely as those without mental disorders to use illicit drugs or misuse legal drugs; twice as likely to be current smokers and around 1.5 times more likely to drink alcohol at least weekly.

Around 17% of young people with a mental disorder had a severe level of impairment, with the remainder having a mild or moderate level of impairment.

While the prevalence of mental illness is relatively high in young people, they have a relatively low use of mental health services. Just less than a quarter of young people with a mental disorder had used mental health services in the previous year. General practitioners were the service most frequently accessed by young people with a mental disorder (15%) followed by psychologists (10%).

Of young people that did not access services, most (85%) did not feel that they had a need for any type of assistance.Young people with a Substance Use Disorder were the least likely to use mental health services.

I'm at a loss here, what do you say to statistics like these? If you or your loved one suffers from a mental disorder - don't be too afraid to seek help. There are people who can help from your GP to a range of dedicated mental health practitioners.

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