The Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into Mental Health is now published, highlighting the following findings:
A person’s mental health reflects the interaction of a lifetime of individual and lifestyle factors with a range of environmental, community and family risk factors.
Mental health problems are the second largest contributor to years lived in ill-health, and almost half of all Australians will experience mental illness at some point in their life. The most common mental illnesses are anxiety disorders and depressive disorders.
The costs of poor mental health and suicide are substantial. They are incurred across the healthcare, education, housing and justice sectors; by workplaces; and by consumers and their families and carers. The direct economic costs in Australia are estimated at $43–70 billion in 2018–19.
The Australian mental health system should be person centred, supporting prevention by reducing the risk of an individual developing mental poor health and enabling early intervention if illness develops.
Improvements to people’s mental health increase their likelihood of employment and their expected income, while also improving their health-related quality of life.
We know there is a large cross-over between chronic pain and mental health in Australia, and Painaustralia’s recommendations to the Inquiry noted that design and service delivery addressing key access issues take into account the nexus between mental health and pain conditions to ensure early intervention and improve long term outcomes. It also highlighted the importance of a biopsychosocial model for best practice pain management, and called for federal mental health policies to reference, and adapt resources for addressing both chronic pain and mental health comorbidities. Painaustralia’s full submission to the Inquiry is available here.
While the report findings are dramatic and it is essential to put a national spotlight on this health issue, chronic pain has similar prevalence rates, impacts on quality of life, and economic cost, without the recognition of these factors or dedicated resources. Painaustralia will continue to advocate to make chronic pain a national health priority.