Mental Health: The Elephant in the Room

1 in 5 Australians will suffer from mental illness this year. It’s time to start talking about mental health – the elephant in the room.

9 – 16 October 2021

Mental Health Week 2021

Nearly 1.1 million Australians, 6.1 percent of 15–49 year olds and 2.6 percent of 10–14 year olds, live with depression.

One in four people will develop an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, with about 13 percent of Australians having an anxiety-related condition. This equates to more than the entire population of Western Australia. 

Mental and substance-use disorders are the fourth highest burden of disease in Australians, accounting for 12 percent.

In 2019, more than 3,300 people died from intentional self-harm. Of those 75 percent were male.

Men are almost twice as likely as women to have substance abuse disorders and in young people substance disorders and mental health disorders are often linked (global Burden of Disease Study 2017) and in young people substance disorders and mental health disorders are often linked.

For an issue that impacts so many Australians it’s time that we all start talking about mental health. Mental Health: The Elephant in the Room campaign aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of mental illness and encourage all Australians to speak openly about the issue.

How to start talking about mental health

If you have concerns that someone you know may have a mental health issue, it’s important to talk to them about your concerns.

Knowing what to say can be hard and you might worry that you will say something wrong. But showing that you are willing to talk with them and listen to them is very important.

You don’t need to know all of the answers. You just need to start the conversation.

You might say:

I’ve noticed that you seem a bit down lately. Is there anything I can do to help you?

Encourage them to get some support by talking with their family or with a doctor or health professional. If you need more tips, beyondblue has great resources for supporting friends and family members.

Remember the important part is offering support but ultimately it is up to the person themselves to decide how they are going to get that support. Be patient with them. But if you are worried about their safety or that they are going to hurt themselves somehow, then you need to let someone know.

Need urgent help?

If you require urgent help for a mental health issue

  • Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7)
  • Call 000 (Emergency Services)
    if life is in danger
  • Go to your nearest hospital emergency department

Private mental health hospitals treat about 42,000 patients each year.

Private hospitals are passionate about addressing mental illness and proud to make a vital contribution to the delivery of treatment for mental health disorders.

Access to private psychiatric hospital services

It is advisable to have private health insurance. Your private health insurance policy must cover basic in-patient psychiatric services. However it may not fully cover your stay within a private psychiatric hospital. Check your policy to see whether it says psychiatric services are fully covered or covered to a limited extent. The APHA guide to accessing Psychiatric Services can give you more information. Two months is the maximum waiting time to be fully covered for private psychiatric hospital treatment by private health insurance.