Mental health in Australia: a quick guide




This quick guide from the Australian Parliamentary Library provides an overview of mental health in Australia, including the prevalence of mental health conditions, the cost of mental illness, government responsibilities, and mental health services available in Australia.  Mental health in Australia: a quick guide



Closing the Gap Report 2019

The Prime Minister has  tabled the 11th Closing the Gap Report in Parliament.


There are currently seven Closing the Gap targets. Two targets, early childhood education and Year 12 attainment, are on track to be met.1

  1. The target to halve the gap in child mortality rates by 2018 is not on track. Since the target baseline (2008) Indigenous child mortality rates have declined by 10 per cent (not statistically significant) but the gap has not narrowed as the non-Indigenous rate has declined at a faster rate.
  2. The target to have 95 per cent of Indigenous four year olds enrolled in early childhood education by 2025 is on track. In 2017, 95 per cent of Indigenous four year olds were enrolled in early childhood education.
  3. The target to close the gap in school attendance by 2018 is not on track. Attendance rates for Indigenous students have not improved between 2014 and 2018 (around 82 per cent in 2018) and remain below the rate for non-Indigenous students (around 93 per cent).
  4. The target to close the gap in life expectancy by 2031 is not on track. Between 2010–12 and 2015–17, Indigenous life expectancy at birth improved by 2.5 years for Indigenous males and by 1.9 years for Indigenous females (both not statistically significant), which has led to a small reduction in the gap.
  5. There is no new national data available for three targets and their status remains the same as for the 2018 Report.2 The target to halve the gap in Year 12 attainment or equivalent by 2020 is on track. The target to halve the gap in reading and numeracy by 2018 is not on track. The target to halve the gap in employment by 2018 is not on track. Closing the Gap Report 2019




New video resources help rural communities with drought-related stress

The CRRMH’s Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) has produced two new video resources for rural communities.
The first video, “Managing Stress”, has been designed for use in medical practices or health care facilities and is for individuals who may be feeling stressed. The video provides information on how to manage stress and what to do if you need further help. 
The second video “Understanding Drought-related Stress”, is for health professionals to better understand how to support patients who are impacted by the drought.

Medicine Safety : Take Care! (Pharmaceutical Society of Australia)

Use of medications is the most common intervention we make in health care, which means that problems with medicine use are also common.

Problems with medication can occur at any time during their use, including when the decision is made to use a medicine, during dispensing, and while using the medicine. This report details the extent of harms in Australia as a result of medicine use. The main types of harm include hospital admissions due to medicines and adverse events. The report estimates the number of hospital admissions due to medicines, the number of emergency department attendances due to medicines, and present the extent of adverse events in the community setting.

The report also identifies the extent of medication-related problems after discharge from hospital and for residents in aged care. It concludes by highlighting some of the opportunities where pharmacists can play a role in minimising these harms.

Medication Safety: Take Care!

Review of respiratory diseases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

This review aims to provide a comprehensive synthesis of key information on respiratory health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The review provides general information on the historical, social and cultural context of respiratory health, and the environmental and behavioural factors that contribute to respiratory disease. It provides information on the extent of respiratory disease, including: incidence and prevalence data; hospitalisations and health service utilisation; mortality and burden of disease. It discusses the issues of prevention and management of respiratory health, and provides information on relevant programs, services, policies and strategies that address the health issue of respiratory diseases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. It concludes by discussing possible future directions for respiratory health in Australia.

O'Grady, K.F., Hall, K., Bell, A., Chang, A.B., Potter, C. (2018). Review of respiratory diseases among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin, 18(2).

New blood test to help predict Alzheimer's disease

A group of international scientists has developed a new blood test which can predict Alzheimer's disease more than a decade before its symptoms develop.  The study, released in the journal Nature Medicine today, shows changes in the levels of a protein in the blood could shed light on damage in the brain.

Alzheimer's is now Australia's second biggest killer, and while there's no way to cure it, scientists hope the test could help in the trial of new drugs.

Listen to the audio at:

Researchers examine how being in nature improves health through DIGnity program

Scientists know that nature keeps people healthy, now a team of researchers from a diverse range faculties at the University of Tasmania are trying to figure out how. One of the programs that has already demonstrated that being outdoors is good for people's mental and physical health is the DIGnity gardening program.
The program reaches out to people who are isolated because of physical and mental health, disabilities or social circumstances, such as having young children or being single parents.

Francie Korotki is an aged care resident who comes for lunches at one of the DIGnity community gardens, where adults with disabilities and their carers also share the space.

Read more at:

Health Benefits of Going On-Country

Going On-Country is expected to have many benefits for the physical, social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of Aboriginal people living in remote areas. Whilst there is evidence that ‘Caring for Country’ programs can improve Aboriginal health, there has been little consideration for the potential benefits of self-initiated activities when On-Country. This research was therefore aimed at finding out if self-initiated On-Country activities are an important source of health benefit for the Anindilyakwa people of Groote Eylandt.

Whilst there are several barriers to going On-Country, the study suggests it is an important source for improving health. In particular, the evidence shows that collecting traditional foods is a culturally inclusive activity that is self-initiated and commonly performed On-Country, which in turn can have several health benefits.

The Health Benefits of going On-Country

Singing helps brain injury sufferers with aphasia learn to speak again

A Queensland choir is using music therapy to unlock language problems and in turn, help sufferers learn to speak again after a brain injury.A person with Aphasia loses the ability to speak following a brain injury like a stroke, but the music therapy bypasses the injured brain cells using rhythm and memory to prompt the words.

Band manager Peter Stuart has mild aphasia and said it sometimes feels like the word he wants to say is on "the tip of his tongue" but he just cannot get it out.

Read more at:

Been there before: Mental Health peer workers make recovery their Mission

Hospital wards around Orange will have 7 new staff working through them from the end of next week helping people in their darkest hours. However, these staff members aren’t medical professionals – they’re cleaners and footballers and teachers and everything in between – but they’re all people who have been through their darkest hours and no want to help others avoid the same fate.

The 7 new workers are part of a new Mission Australia program to help alleviate the stigma and trauma from mental illness at Bloomfield by having people who have “lived experience” – either themselves or from close family members – dealing and coping with mental health.

Read more at:

Calls for immediate government action on Indigenous youth suicide crisis

An alarming rise in the number of young Indigenous Australians taking their own life has sparked calls for immediate government intervention. Last year saw the highest ever number of Indigenous youth suicides in a single year and, already, this year, four Aboriginal girls have taken their own lives.

Researchers fear Indigenous children will soon make up half of all youth suicides.

Read and download audio at:

Malignant hyperthermia resources

Malignant Hyperthermia (MH) is a reaction to commonly used anaesthesia drugs where the body produces too much heat. If it is not recognised and treated in its early stages, MH can lead to death. The risk of developing MH is associated with a change in the genes that are responsible for controlling the release of calcium in muscle cells.

An MH reaction is a rare event, occurring in about one in every ten thousand general anaesthetics. Probably at least one person in every five thousand in the population is potentially susceptible.

Triggering anaesthetics do not necessarily cause an MH crisis every time someone at risk is given them. MH is hereditary; it is passed on through the family. It affects males and females equally, and can occur in every ethnicity. A person with MH has a 50% chance of passing that risk on to each child that they have.

The new Malignant Hyperthermia Australia & New Zealand website provides information for anaesthetists and patients, as well as an online training program and referral contacts.

Australian Healthcare Governance and the Cultural Safety and Security of Australia’s First Peoples: an annual critique

The phrase 'cultural safety and security' is a new aspect of health policy for Australia's First Peoples. It asks healthcare leaders and stewards to consider cultural safety not only when health professionals communicate with patients, but throughout every point and pathway of the healthcare system which, in so doing, could become culturally secure for Australia's First Peoples.

The question that stimulated this critique was: how are healthcare stewards meant to restructure their corporate governance so that their healthcare services are more culturally safe and secure for Australia's First Peoples?

Australian Healthcare Governance and the Cultural Safety and Security of Australia's First Peoples:an annual critique

Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-2023

The   Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention in NSW 2018-2023  was developed by the NSW Mental Health Commission and the NSW Ministry of Health in collaboration with people with lived experience of suicide attempts or losing a loved one to suicide, government agencies, mental health organisations and experts in suicide prevention.

The Framework identifies 5 priority action areas to reduce suicide in NSW:

  • Building individual and community resilience and wellbeing 
    To help people cope with tough times 
  • Strengthening the community response to suicide and suicidal behaviour
    To help people recognise those who are at risk of suicide, and take steps to support them
  • Supporting excellence in clinical services and care 
    To ensure people have access to appropriate, high quality clinical services and care, including broader supports and services 
  • Promoting a collaborative, coordinated and integrated approach 
    To reduce duplication and gaps
  • Innovating for a stronger evidence base 
    To know and use interventions that work to prevent suicide.  

About the Framework

Strategic Framework for Suiciode Prevention in NSW 2015-2023

Impact of FIFO work arrangements on the mental health and well-being of FIFO workers

This research from the Centre for Transformative Work Design brings together findings from a literature review with a comprehensive analysis of 59 FIFO studies, a survey of more than 3000 FIFO workers, in-depth interviews, surveys of FIFO partners and former FIFO workers, and a study that tracks how workers’ experiences vary across five points of a swing.

The findings across all of these sources of evidence are remarkably consistent. The research shows that, even when taking account of associated risk factors such as age and education, there is a greater risk of mental ill health amongst those workers operating under FIFO work arrangements. Indeed, one third of the 3000 FIFO workers surveyed experience high or very high levels of psychological distress, as measured on an extensively validated scale.

Crucially, poorer mental health and riskier alcohol and other drug use are risk factors for suicide, and both of these risk factors are present in the FIFO sample. In addition, FIFO workers have a demographic profile (gender, age, education, job role) in which suicide likelihood is greater, while also reporting feelings of loneliness, stigma, bullying and perceived lack of autonomy. Altogether, this pattern of findings suggests that FIFO workers are likely to be at greater risk of suicide.

Impact of FIFO work arrangements on the mental health and well-being of FIFO workers

How physical activity in Australian schools can help prevent depression in young people

Adolescence is a critical time for the development of mental health problems. In fact, depression is most likely to occur during adolescence and young adulthood. It’s the leading cause of disability in young people worldwide.

At least one‐quarter of young people will experience an episode of depression before 19 years of age. By year 9, students who have experienced a mental disorder are on average two years behind in academic achievement compared to those without a mental disorder.

See more at:

How much of eating disorders is in our DNA — and can we predict and prevent them?

Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness in young women.
In recent years, researchers have made advances in detecting the genetic links, raising hopes for treatment and prevention.

Professor Tracey Wade is Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor at Flinders University and associate investigator of the Australian Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI).
Elise Thompson spent six years living with anorexia.

Click on link for audio at:

Flying blind 2: Australian researchers and digital health

Australia has a wealth of health data resources, many of which are originally collected for other purposes such as administration or compliance. With appropriate access to these data and through data linkage, health researchers can generate new insights, uncover new trends and deepen our understanding of health and disease. In FB2, the aim is to understand how well these national data assets are used for research and where barriers may exist to more effective use.

This is the second of 3 reports by the Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre on digital health in Australia.

Flying blind Vol. 2: Australian researchers and digital health

Flying blind Vol. 1: Australian consumers and digital health