Today NPS MedicineWise released survey results for young Australians with mental health problems. Almost half (47%) did not feel comfortable talking to their doctor about it when they were first diagnosed. This became easier over time. About 4 in 10 (43%) had used a mental health safety plan. This is something that can cut the risk of suicide almost in half.
We conducted the survey from 25-29 June 2022. 309 Australians between the ages of 16 and 24 diagnosed with a mental health condition took part. The people were representative of young people with mental health problems.
Mental health and young people
Awareness of mental ill health in Australia is growing. It is a problem that often starts at a young age.
“More than half of all young people experience some form of mental illness by the age of 25,” says Dr Caroline West, GP and medical adviser at NPS MedicineWise.
“For three-quarters of adults living with a mental health problem, it started before the age of 25. This is why it is so important that young people seek help early. There are treatments that work.
“Fear of stigma and feeling alone in their struggles prevents people from seeking help,” she says.
That’s why NPS MedicineWise has created a series of videos where young people share their stories. They talk about overcoming stigma, building relationships with health professionals and navigating the health system.
“There are cultural aspects to having a mental health condition,” says Jeanette Chan, a 23-year-old mental health advocate from Melbourne.
“It was really challenging at first to talk about mental health with my family. It wasn’t something we talked about much.
“For a long time I held it and handled it myself.
“I finally talked to my family about my mental health. It wasn’t good at first. As time passed, I continued with the various conversations. It was worked for the best”, she says.
A trusting relationship with your doctor
The survey found that people felt more comfortable talking to their doctor about their mental health over time. When first diagnosed, almost half (47%) felt uncomfortable talking about the subject. Only about three in ten (31%) of these people still feel uncomfortable now.
The survey also found that almost one in five (18%) people were not part of treatment decisions. Over four in ten (44%) felt equal to their doctor in working for their mental health.
“It is important that you feel comfortable with your doctor. They are your partner working with you on your mental health. It’s about you and what’s right for you,” says Dr West.
“Sometimes it can take time to get comfortable. If you don’t connect with a doctor, it’s important to find one you can relate to and trust.
Safety plans reduce the risk of suicide
About four in ten (43%) of young people with a mental health condition use a mental health safety plan. Only about one in seven (15%) had never heard of a mental health safety plan.
Suicidal thoughts are common for people experiencing mental health concerns.
A mental health safety plan is an important part of mental health treatment. A safety plan can cut the risk of suicide by almost half (435).
You can use the Beyond Now app from Beyond Blue as a mental health backup plan. It’s on your phone and it’s always there when you need it.”
Dr Caroline West, GP and Medical Advisor, NPS MedicineWise
There are 7 steps in the Beyond Now mental safety plan:
- Knowing your warning signs
- Making your environment safe
- Memories of reasons to live
- Things that can make you feel strong
- People and places to connect
- Family and friends you can talk to
- Professional support