1037 Australians share priority policy issues for mental health

A study investigating the effects of COVID-19 on Australians’ mental health has surveyed Australian community members and found the pandemic placed additional pressures on an already over-burdened mental health system, leaving many without timely appropriate support. As COVID deaths continue to climb and Australian’s mental health is compounded by ongoing major events, like extreme weather, this study identifies policy changes required to safeguard Australia’s future mental health.

Tea Alone Together Study was run by the University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre, in collaboration with Australia’s Mental Health Think Tank. The study findings were published in PLOS ONE.

The research found the COVID-19 pandemic ‘pressurised’ existing triggers for poor mental health by amplifying financial stress and reducing social support and connection.

Lead author Dr Marlee Bower said that despite growing evidence on the serious disruption COVID-19 has caused in the daily lives of Australians, the mental health experiences of the general public were largely unknown. In addition, many were seeking mental health support for the first-time in their lives but faced multiple barriers to access.

β€œIn this study we wanted to include the voices of those outside the mental health system – the lived experiences of everyday Australians are invaluable in informing targeted policy planning and to improve Australian mental health care.”

As part of the Alone Together Study, researchers surveyed over 1000 Australians from 18 to 89 years old, during July to December 2020 and a follow up survey between March and June 2021. The study was conducted across all Australian states and territories.

The researchers identified multiple barriers that prevented Australians from accessing high quality mental health care they needed.

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