Australia’s mental health crisis laid bare

By | July 5, 2019

Close to 65,000 customers of just one private health insurer were hospitalised for mental health treatment in just one year.

Around 20 per cent of Australians will have a mental disorder this year, a growing number still aged in their 20s.

The figures for 2018, released today by health insurer Medibank, give a stark indication of the extent of mental health problems confronting medical authorities.

These disorders range from depression to acute drug and alcohol addictions.

The figures also provide a warning on how these health problems are adding strain to health budgets.

The average benefit paid for an overnight hospital admission for psychiatric care was more than $ 13,000 per patient.

And the demand for such services is growing.

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Medibank today notes the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of adults aged 16-85 years found 45 per cent of Australians will have a common mental disorder in their lifetime.

Each year an estimated one in five Australian adults, about 3.8 million people, will experience a mental disorder.

Medibank has a strong history of supporting better mental health for all its customers with the launch of the Mental Health Phone Support service and the introduction of the mental health waiver as part of the Australian Government reforms to private health insurance.

“Hospital admission for psychiatric reasons is in the top five claims for Medibank customers nationally. It is also the most common hospital claim for our customers aged in their 20s,” said Medibank’s chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan.

“Medibank paid benefits towards 65,413 day or overnight hospital admissions in the 2018 financial year for psychiatric care.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday told parliament almost half of Australians will have some form of mental health challenge, whether it’s anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia or many other conditions.

“On that front, I’m proud that we’ve been able to deliver a $ 500 million youth suicide prevention and mental health treatment package,” he said. “But coupled with that is the absolute importance of building resilience and encouraging prevention.”

Medibank says the most common reasons for overnight hospital admission were rehabilitation, childbirth, orthopaedic surgery, respiratory conditions and psychiatry.

Colonoscopy, chemotherapy, rehabilitation, dialysis and psychiatry were the most common admissions for same-day procedures.

Medibank Mental Health Phone Support line: 1800 644 325

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