Mental health tops list of long-term ailments 

8 September 2022

Mental health is Australia’s most common long-term health problem, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports. 

Data from the 2021 Census reveals the most commonly reported long-term health conditions in the Australian population were a mental health condition (8.8 per cent), arthritis (8.5 per cent) and asthma (8.1 per cent). 

According to Nurse and Midwife Support, almost half the Australian population, aged between 16-85, will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, with 20 per cent of adults affected by a mental illness every year. However, less than half of those experiencing a mental illness will access support and treatment (National Mental Health Commission, 2014). 

Today, (September 8) is RU OK? Day – a national day of action to remind Australians that every day is the day to ask, ‘are you OK?’ and start a meaningful conversation whenever they spot the signs that someone they care about might be struggling with life. 

The team at Nurse and Midwife Support say if you are concerned about someone and you don’t know what to ask, this simple question is often the answer: “R U OK?”. 

If the response is “no”, demonstrate empathy and concern, let them tell you their feelings without judgment and ask how you can help. The team at R U OK? - have excellent resources and tips for how to be supportive during this type of conversation. 

“The alarming mental health statistics underscore why we need to invest more in facilities and resources to specifically treat and accommodate people with a mental health issue,’’ ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said. 

“This will also help to ease the strain on hospital emergency departments which are ill-equipped to deal with such cases. People with mental health needs should not have to endure being housed in emergency departments, sometimes for days on end, simply for lack of alternative facilities.’’ 

The Census data also showed more than half (51.5 per cent) of people living in lone person households had a long-term health condition compared to 29.4 per cent of those living in other types of households. 

Nurse & Midwife Support is available 24/7 to support nurses and midwives no matter where you are in Australia: 1800 667 877 or 

Other support services include: Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 – They also have some great online resources to support health care workers. 

  • You can also access Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 
  • Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14 
  • Suicide Call Back Service 24/7 on 1300 659 467 
  • Kids Helpline 24/7 on 1800 55 1800