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Content warning: this article refers to content that may be distressing for some readers, including information on suicide. If you or someone you know needs support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

On Thursday 5 October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released their National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2020-2022. The report is based on responses from almost 16,000 Australians aged between 16 and 85, and as it was conducted during the height of the COVID pandemic, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the data has not improved, particularly for young people.

The report finds that 43% of people aged 16-85 years have experienced a mental disorder at some time in their lives and that 39% of young people aged 16-24 experienced a mental disorder in the last 12 months.

This is significantly higher than the previous report in 2007, which found that 26% of people aged 16-24 years reported a mental disorder. For context, other age groups have remained consistent since 2007.

A mental disorder is ‘characterised by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, or behaviour’. The term covers a range of conditions, including:

  • anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • affective disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder
  • substance use disorders.

The report acknowledges that mental health is affected by various factors, including a person’s access to services, living conditions and employment status.

The importance of seeking help, and helping others to do the same

When taking gender into consideration, the prevalence of mental disorders in the previous 12 months was higher for women (one in four) than for men (one in five).

Women were, however, much more likely to seek professional help. Of those who reported a mental disorder, fifty-one per cent of women saw a health professional in 2020-2022 while just 36% of men did.

Sadly, men account for over 75% of deaths by suicide in Australia, so it continues to be vitally important to encourage those around us to seek help if they are experiencing mental health problems.

Overcoming the barriers

The discrepancy between men and women seeking help for their mental health can be explained, in part, by certain barriers Australians (and men in particular) face. These barriers include costs, wait times, stigma around mental health and harmful stereotypes that it is seen as weak to seek help or talk about feelings.

The reality is it’s not the easiest process to seek help for your mental health; if you would like to see a psychologist, you need a referral. This means you first need to book an appointment with a GP and ask for a mental health treatment plan and referral to a psychologist. Once you have your referral, you need to make an appointment, and wait lists can be long.

It is also expensive. While Medicare will subsidise 10 psychology sessions for someone on a mental health treatment plan, someone struggling with an acute condition may need additional funds for more regular treatment or treatment with a psychiatrist.

For anyone experiencing poor mental health, reaching out for support can be a huge emotional and logistical effort. But as the data shows, it’s never been more important for those experiencing mental health issues, no matter how minor, to seek help and to encourage friends and family to do so.

Your super insurance & mental health

Many people are unaware that their super funds have insurance benefits to be claimed if they can’t work due to injury or illness, and this includes mental health conditions.

We’ve helped thousands of Australians successfully claim their insurance benefits when they became unable to work due to their poor mental health. Importantly, these insurance payments are separate from your super balance.

And your claim does not have to be work-related. You could be suffering from depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, or a substance abuse issue; if your mental health is preventing you from being able to work in your usual occupation, you will likely have a super insurance claim.

In many cases, disability insurance benefits for mental health conditions can be received in addition to other compensation benefits for work and road-related accidents.

A successful insurance claim can ease the financial burden of unemployment caused by mental health issues and can provide the funds needed to access additional mental health treatment.

The claims process can be complicated, and insurers are often difficult to deal with. And when you’re unwell, it might be the last thing you feel like doing. That’s why our experienced and dedicated super insurance legal team is here to help.

Call us for an obligation-free and confidential discussion where our expert lawyers can get started on a free super claim check to find out your entitlements and discuss your options for making a claim.

Just like it is important to seek help for mental health issues, it’s important to be aware of the insurance our super funds have in them to help us out during hard times.

Our specialist superannuation lawyers are here to help.

If you're unable to work due to illness or injury, you may be eligible to make a claim on your superannuation insurance. Your injury can be physical or psychological and doesn't need to be work-related. We can help you understand what options are available to you. 

It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand 

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We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Australian Capital Territory. If you need a lawyer in Canberra or elsewhere in Australian Capital Territory, please call us on 1800 675 346.

We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.