Youth and adult mental health – latest trends

Have you ever flipped a coin? Played 2 up? Remember when someone asked you “Heads or tails?” and you won? Or lost? Well, the percentage chance of you winning or losing is 50%. ‘Duh’ you say.
Interestingly enough, did you also know that statistically speaking, you have that same chance of experiencing a mental health disorder at some point over the course of your life?
Did you know that, in our adolescents and young people, the chance of experiencing a serious mental health disorder was 1 in 5?

Neither did I. Below are some interesting giraffes and interpretations:

(Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009)

Based on these stats- one in five Australians aged 16-85 years experienced mental disorders in the last year! For adults, the most common issues seem to be anxiety disorders (panic attacks, social anxiety etc) followed by affective (mood- depression, Bipolar) and substance use (alcohol or other drugs). The prevalence among females tends to be higher across all age groups compared to males. Have a look around at your family, friends, colleagues, extended family- do you hear everything clicking together?

But wait, there’s more!

A large longitudinal study completed by the Black Dog Institute in conjunction with Mission Australia released a report in 2017 that focused on mental health in our younger people. The key points found:

  • Approx. 20% of young people (15-19 years old) meet criteria for a probable serious mental illness.
  • The top three issues of personal concern for young people met criteria for probable serious mental illness were:
    1.Coping with stress
    2.School or study problems
  • These were followed by body image, family conflict and bullying.

    If you’re a young person (or friend, parent of one): the graph below clearly shows how how there’s been an overall uptrend over the past five years in adolescent mental health.

Yet, the scariest part of this is the reluctance or plain avoidance of discussion of mental health among the general population. We can clearly see how common this is, and we need to continue the conversations. This post was done on World Mental Health day, however, every day should be world mental health day! The science certainly backs this up. It’s okay to not be okay, please seek help! Whether that’s a friend, family, your GP- help is there, but it’s your responsibility to take that next step. If you won’t look after yourself, who will?

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