a blog about mental illness and community

Nothing like a mental health slant to make statistics more fun!

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) releases information to promote better health and well-being. The AIHW – a government-linked body – collects and reports on national mental health care data.

One of the institute’s most recent reports focuses on the comorbidity of mental disorders and physical conditions. In essence, the prevalence and impact of mental illness when it occurs at the same time as common chronic diseases (ie heart disease, lung cancer).

The comorbidity report includes many illuminating, factual nuggets:

– Around one in nine Australians aged 16–85 (12% of the age group) had a mental disorder and a physical condition at the same time. These people were more likely to be female, and aged in their early forties

– The most common comorbidity was anxiety disorder combined with a physical condition, affecting around 1.4 million (9%) Australian adults

– People living in the most disadvantaged areas of Australia were 65% more likely to have comorbidity than those living in the least disadvantaged areas

– Some health risk factors were more prevalent among people who had a mental disorder. For example, groups with a mental disorder had higher proportions of smokers (and therefore smoking-related physical ailments) compared with the groups without a mental disorder

– The coexistence of mental and physical conditions has an effect on quality of life. (Duh!!!) For example, the comorbidity group were more than 10 times as likely to report high levels of psychological distress compared with the groups with no mental disorder

Gee, aren’t stats a barrel of laughs?

Sarcasm aside, this is valuable research. If more studies like this one are commissioned, published and brought into the spotlight of public consciousness, there’ll be more awareness and acceptance of mental illness in the community.

And, fingers crossed, less stigma.


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