Is Mental Health a disability in Australia?
Mental health in Australia covers our psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Mental health problems or mental illness describe a group of conditions that can negatively affect the mind or brain. These conditions can qualify as a disability in Australia.
Mental illnesses can affect your personal relationships, and health, and can have an impact on your everyday life, including your work.
How Common Are Mental Health Problems in Australia?
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare lists that over 2 in 5 (44%, or 8.6 million) Australians aged 16–85 are estimated to have experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life, with 1 in 5 (21%, or 4.2 million) having experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months.
What symptoms affect Australians with mental health conditions?
There is a large range of conditions that can have an impact on your mental health. These include Depression, Anxiety disorders, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, and personality disorders. All mental health conditions can be covered by TPD insurance.
Some of the common conditions, and their symptoms include:
- Depression – disturbances in mood and emotion, inability to experience pleasure, social withdrawal, hopelessness, negative mindset, fatigue/ low energy, sleep disturbances, and more
- Anxiety diseases – high apprehension over anticipated problems, intense fear, excessive worry, restlessness, irritability, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and more
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – extreme response to severe stressors
How does Mental Health affect Australians?
The Australian Government believes that your mental health affects how you think, feel and act.
It influences how you handle stress, how you relate to people, and how you see yourself and the world around you. It shapes the choices you make throughout the course of your life, and has an impact on your work, relationships, and even physical health.
There are many types of mental health conditions and disorders and each condition:
- Has a variety of symptoms
- Can be short or long term
- Can affect people in different ways – some have mild symptoms, while others have severe symptoms that can lead to harm to themselves or others.
With the right support, you can manage and improve mental ill-health, and maintain your mental health.
What are some of the causes of mental illness?
Health Direct lists some of the causes of mental health issues including:
- Genetic factors — having a close family member with a mental illness can increase the chance that you might get a mental illness.
- Drug and alcohol abuse — illicit drug use can trigger a manic episode (bipolar disorder) or an episode of psychosis.
- Other biological factors — some medical conditions or hormonal changes can cause mental health problems.
- Early life environment — negative childhood experiences can increase the risk of some mental illnesses.
- Trauma and stress — in adulthood, traumatic life events or ongoing stress can increase the risk of mental illness.
- Personality factors — some traits such as perfectionism or low self-esteem can increase the risk of depression or anxiety
However, an important thing to recognize about the causes of mental health conditions is that they are illnesses just like any other physical conditions and they do not make the individuals “weak” or at fault. Learn more about how to help these conditions here:
What help is available for Australians with Mental health?
Head to Health lists a large range of treatment options and how to get help if you have problems with mental health. The mental health services you choose will depend on your situation and how you’re feeling:
- Digital resources: there is a wide range of online websites, chat groups and apps out there, each with its own purpose. They’re especially useful to find information and learn skills to manage your own health. You can also use them as part of a health professional’s treatment plan to support your progress between consultations.
- Face-to-face services: many different types of health professionals may be involved in your treatment. This can range from your first appointment with a GP to working with a specialist, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. It’s valuable to know what roles they all play, and how to access them.
Whatever your situation, it’s important to reach out for help. The service you access first can help you work out your options, so you can choose the best pathway for where you’re at.