Mental health focus on suicide and woman’s health

World Mental Health Day brings an increased focus on a number of significant health issues including increased suicide rates and women’s health.

The National Rural Health Alliance welcomed the federal government’s announcement of a Productivity Commission inquiry into the role of mental health in the Australian economy and the best ways to support and improve national mental wellbeing.

In particular, Alliance CEO Mark Diamond urged the government to move forward with positive programs aimed at countering the increased rates of suicide, particularly in outer regional and remote areas.

But Alliance CEO Mark Diamond urged the government to move forward with positive programs aimed at countering increased rates of suicide, particularly in outer regional and remote areas.

He says the incidence of suicide is far greater in country areas, with rates rising from 10.4 people per 100,000 in capital cities to as many as 18.8 per 100,000 in remote areas.

“These numbers are shocking,” Mr Diamond said.

“At a national level, suicide is the single leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 44 years of age. Children aged five to 17 years are more likely to die from suicide than from any other cause; this alone is a real concern.

“We know that the Commonwealth provides an estimated $4.7 billion annually on mental-health services. However, the rates of suicide are so alarming that we shouldn’t wait for the assessment of the full economic impact of mental-health issues in our community.

“The National Rural Health Alliance welcomes the Productivity Commission inquiry. But we maintain that there is already compelling evidence indicating the incidence of suicide, particularly in rural and remote Australia, requires a substantial funding commitment to make sure the supports that people need, regardless of where they live, are available and accessible.”

With regards to woman’s health, a network of experts called for better integration of physical and mental healthcare for all Australians, but particularly for women.

They say health professionals should be mindful that women with physical conditions are at higher risk of mental illnesses, and that women with mental illnesses are at higher risk of chronic physical conditions that may be undiagnosed.

This follows recent findings by Australia’s Mental and Physical Health Tracker that reveal women are 23 per cent more likely than men to have both a mental illness and physical health condition. The data also reveals that women with a mental health condition are 68 per cent more likely to have back pain, 70 per cent more likely to have asthma and 46 per cent more likely to have arthritis.

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