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Gold Coast Mental Health a Rising Concern!

Dec 22, 2016Healthy Living0 comments

Gold Coast Mental Health

Gold Coast mental health concerns; despite the increase in awareness and acceptance of mental illness in recent years, it appears that many sufferers are not finding their way to counselling services in time. Counselling can be an important tool in preventing hospitalisation and even suicide among Gold Coast residents with mental health concerns. 

With the emergence of support organisations such as Beyond Blue, the Black Dog Institute and Headspace in recent decades, the profile of mental illness has risen significantly, as have the available counselling services. Despite this, rates of hospitalisation and even suicide on the Gold Coast and wider Queensland have only continued to rise.

So, what are the statistics? 

In Queensland during the 2013/14 financial year, over 44% of all hospitalisations for mental disorders were related to depression and anxiety. Worrying, the Gold Coast has followed this trend.  Within the Gold Coast Health Area (GCHA) this equated to 4,491 presentations to hospital for depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and personality disorders in the same year. The rate of anxiety and depression (specifically) per capita (559/100,000) was higher than at any point between 2000 and 2012.

It is estimated that only 14% of the 74,000 people treated in Queensland for a mental or substance use disorder in 2013/14 received non-clinical treatment (including counselling). The Gold Coast Population Health Profile (GCPHP) published in November 2015 suggests that the rate of services sought and provided varied greatly depending on the severity of the mental disorder in question. Those classified as having a ‘severe disorder’ had a 94% chance of being provided with treatment in one form or another. Alternatively, only 26% of those with a ‘mild disorder’ were reported to have received treatment for their illness.

Anxiety and Depression Queensland

Who is being affected? 

According to the Gold Coast Population Health Profile, suicide was the leading cause of death for young people in 2010, with a total of 569 deaths across Queensland (and a total of 2,864 in Australia). Alarmingly, in 2013/14 a total of 781 episodes of suicide and self-inflicted injury were recorded within the GCHA. In trend with the rise in rates of treatments for mental health disorders, the rates of suicide and self-inflicted injury were the highest recorded since the year 2000. It was noted that young women were more likely to be affected than men.

Interestingly, according to the Australia & New Zealand Mental Health Association, in their article titled ‘Gold Coast groups to alleviate alarming suicide rates in men‘ rates of suicide in men are highest among individuals over the age of 85, at 37.6 in 100,000. The next highest rate is in men aged between 40 and 44 years (29 in 100,000).

These figures can be hard to comprehend, but it is fair to say that suicide is a concern across all age groups for both men and women, and it is growing in frequency. 

The GCPHP states:

“The Gold Coast continues to see an increase in access demand for mental health services in the Emergency department, community and inpatient mental services. The increase in the amount of drug and alcohol related presentations have increased complexity and acuity levels of the mental health presentations.”

What does this mean for Gold Coast mental health? 

Troublingly, it appears that many individuals who are experiencing anxiety and depression, yet do not present with a ‘severe’ disorder (such as clinically diagnosed schizophrenia or other personality disorders) are unlikely to seek out preventative services such as counselling.  

While rates of mental health disorders, severe and mild alike, are on the increase, the rates of uptake on counselling services appear not to have increased at the same rate. While there are a myriad of theories on the causes of these increases in mental health concerns throughout the population (including substance abuse and illicit drug and alcohol problems), it is apparent that Gold Coast counselling services are incredibly important in stemming the rise of hospitalisation and suicide on the Coast.

Without meaningful change and a coordinated approach amongst key community health stakeholders, these incidences will only continue to grow.

What is being done to improve mental health?

There are a number of studies and initiatives being undertaken around the country in the hope of decreasing the rates of suicide and self-harm due to depression and anxiety. One such program is a new initiative called LifeSpan (previously named the Systems Approach to Suicide Prevention) developed by the Black Dog Institute and the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP).

LifeSpan aims to create integrated local treatment programs based upon 9 evidence-based strategies, to curb the upward trend in suicide and self-harm within the Australian community. One of the main therapeutic options they report to be a proven success in reducing suicide rates are ‘psychosocial’ therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which can be accessed through counselling services.

Importantly, along with strategies to improve accessibility of services both pre- and post-suicide and self-harm episodes is the key policy of increased media awareness and collaborative community campaigns. 

According to LifeSpan:

“The key to this program, and what makes it different to anything tried before in Australia, is the intensity of the interventions. It is the first time we are implementing specially tailored and evidence-based strategies at the same time within local communities. Once evaluated, we hope this approach will provide the framework for an integrated suicide prevention approach throughout Australia.”

Anxiety and Depression Therapy and Strategies

Where can sufferers look to find help?

Counselling is proven to be very effective in treating sufferers of depression and anxiety. The video below discusses ways in which counselling (referred to here as ‘talking therapies’ as opposed to pharmacological therapies or medication) can help to overcome a number of mental health concerns from stress to depression and anxiety.

The good news is that counselling services on the Gold Coast are readily available. Professionally trained and experienced counsellors such as those at Integrated Health Specialists offer solutions-focused and practical strategies in order to improve the lives of those suffering from a number of mental health concerns. The most important step for those experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety is to take the initial step to consult with an experienced practitioner, and discover that their condition is not only remarkably common, but is also treatable.