After a difficult COVID-affected 2020, as we approach the traditional “happiest time of the year”, monitoring Australian mental health has never been more important.
This year has been a year like few in living memory. COVID-19 has been part of nearly every conversation, especially for GPs and other health professionals as they manage the health of the nation, with the focus on Australian mental health front and centre.
So much so, that when the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) recently released its annual “General Practice Health of the Nation 2020” report, Australian mental health was constantly referred to.
Health of the Nation 2020
“Psychological issues” were among the top four patient presentations, alongside preventative, respiratory (with suspected COVID-19 listed as one of the primary presentations) and musculoskeletal.
When GPs were asked about issues requiring policy action, the uptick in Australian mental health presentations has prompted them to place it as the aggregate number two issue just behind the issue of Medicare rebates.
And when asked about the personal mental health toll faced by GPs during the COVID-19 pandemic, over 40% indicated their personal mental health had deteriorated, although in slightly better news 90% of GPs still indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their work overall.
Productivity Commission Report Echoes Health of Nation
The concerns of GPs around Australian mental health have also been documented by the Federal Government’s key economic advisory body – the Productivity Commission – albeit from an economic perspective.
Released in mid-November, the report estimated an astonishing $220B per annum hit to the economy due to mental illness and suicide. It also offered the GPs a glimmer of hope in documenting a raft of issues around the need for changes to the management of the Australian mental health system. One of the key recommendations in the report that will most attract the attention of GPs is that the Medicare rebate for psychology sessions should continue beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women and Australian Mental Health
In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had already recognised burnout syndrome as what it called an “occupational phenomenon” and so it will come as no surprise that one group who seems to have suffered more in 2020 when it comes to Australian mental health are women, particularly around burnout syndrome as COVID-19 massively disrupted work and home life.
The pressure the pandemic has placed on working families, but women, in particular, has led to concerns of long-term mental health issues that require addressing now. Industry experts, such as Relationships Australia CEO Elisabeth Shaw, have encouraged employers to prioritise mental health by engaging with employees to help manage boundaries and expectations.
Simple things like more flexible work arrangements so that women employees have time outside of work and family commitments to tend to personal activities like exercise, social activity and “alone time” are crucial in preventing further burnout and associated mental health issues.
Working to match as many of our clients and potential candidates to suitable roles means Gorilla Jobs often hear about the kind of job and lifestyle-related requirements that significantly impact how the work is performed. Whether you want to add on more or less to your workload, reach out to us if we can help you in the process.
Christmas – Not Necessarily the Happiest Time of the Year
And coming into the traditional holiday festive season, while the songs and movies we watch might paint Christmas as the happiest time of the year, the reality is not the case for everyone.
The pressure and expectation of this period, alongside it being a particularly socially active period leading to even more probability of burnout, can put pressure on Australian mental health and lead to what some psychologists call “The Holiday Blues”.
And for those who don’t have family or friends to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s with, while for some this might be a preference, for others it can be a lonely time of being left feeling on the outside of the festive activity.
The key point is that while this Holiday Blues phenomenon might be temporary for many, as the year draws to a close and given the challenging COVID-19 disrupted year we have just had, being aware of those around you and their mental health is more important than ever.
If this article has raised any issues for you or you are aware of family members or friends who need assistance, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 Or Beyond Blue 1800 512 348