From bushfires to a global pandemic, 2020 was difficult for many. Uncertainty, loss of income, and an increase in social isolation were among the challenges which brought into sharp focus the importance of looking after our mental health.
In order to gain a better understanding of how Australians treat their mental health, the Federal Government has announced a landmark new study on the mental wellbeing of Australians.
The mental health study, which will be the largest ever undertaken in Australia, will involve 17,000 people, more than double those involved in the last study conducted in 2007.
National Mental Health Commission chief executive Christine Morgan said the way Australians talk and think about mental health had changed significantly since the last survey .
“We have moved on so much more than 2007. We’ll still be looking at things like whether people have markers for anxiety or mood disorders, but this goes much further,’’ she said.
The silver lining of the pandemic was Australians felt more comfortable talking about mental health issues. It was the year when Australians were prepared to realise their mental health was as integral to them as their physical health. “We felt comfortable talking about it, saying ‘yes I do feel distressed, I really feel blue’.”
The intergenerational study will hear from people aged between 16 and 85, and will look at all aspects of mental health.
The study will give policy makers a broader insight into how Australians access mental health support services, providing a new baseline for government mental health policies and service provision. The first results from the new study are expected to be released by the end of 2021.
Health Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement acknowledging that almost half of Australians experience a mental health challenge at some stage in their lifetime and highlighted the impact of the bushfires and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, making this year’s study vitally important.
The mental health study is the first stage of a $89.5 million intergenerational study which includes general health, diet, physical activity and biomedical health. The national study will finish in 2023 and involve 60,000 participants.
Flourish Australia welcomes the study and the opportunities for better understanding it will bring.
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