26% of young people in Australia experience mental health issues, including depression each year.

Dr Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington DC, recently told the National Health and Medical Research Council in Canberra that Australia was ten years ahead of America in mental health reform, particularly in early intervention and youth mental health.

In recent years concerns about mental health issues have risen in the consciousness of both the Australian people and its government.

It is encouraging to see that the recent budget allotted $2.2 billion to mental health care, focusing on early intervention programs for young people. The surge in mental health issues among young people weakens our society as a whole. It strikes at the very heart of the generation that we are relying upon to shoulder the burden of keeping this country working.

Mental health issues, including depression, affect young people who are on the threshold of productive life, contributing to more than 50% of the burden of disease. Even up to 44 years of age, 36% of the burden of disease is caused by mental health issues and suicide.
 
Professor Patrick McGorry, former Australian of the year, international researcher, clinician and advocate for mental health reform recently reported in The Wall Street Journal that “Whilst uncommon in younger children where disorders such as autism, ADHD and anxiety affect about 9% of children, depression steadily emerges during adolescence, building into a disorder in its own right, or featuring as a gateway and partner to other common disorders such as psychosis, personality disorder and substance use disorders.” 
 
Many young people who experience mental health issues during this stage of their lives receive little or no help. We seem to think that distress, depression and anxiety are all just ‘normal and acceptable’ aspects of a young person’s life.

A recent New Zealand study found that nearly 50% of young people will manifest diagnosable mental disorders which will significantly affect their social, vocational and economic well-being by 30 years of age.  
   
Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: The Wall Street Journal. Professor Patrick McGorry AO is a former Australian of the Year. He is a leading international researcher, clinician and advocate for mental health reform.