Medibank data shows more members are being hospitalised for mental health problems than ever before, with the number of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression increasing above all other conditions.
Practicing psychiatrist Dr Andrew Wilson, Medibank’s Executive General Manager of Provider Networks and Integrated Care, says the impact of mental health on individuals, organisations and society is a shared responsibility for the whole community.
“Every year it costs $28.6 billion to support people with mental illness in Australia, not including indirect costs such as loss of productivity,” Dr Wilson says. “This is a massive problem with no single solution, which is why it is important organisations like Medibank play a role together with governments and the not-for-profit sector in working towards a solution.”
Mental health in Australia
A snapshot of Medibank members in 2013 found that:
• More than 50,000 members have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder – 31,749 women and 18,510 men.
• More members than ever before were hospitalised for mental health related illness, with 64,752 separations in 12 months – a 10.4% annual increase over the previous two years.
• Women are twice as likely as men to use mental health services and access in-patient psychiatric treatment two and a half times more frequently than men.
• Medibank paid out $142 million in benefits for members receiving in-hospital treatment for mental health issues.
• The top three benefits paid by diagnosis are mood disorders, which includes anxiety and depression, substance abuse and neurotic disorders.
• Anxiety disorders and substance abuse are the fastest-growing mental health issues facing Medibank members.
Medibank working towards better mental health
“As a private health insurer, Medibank supports hundreds of thousands of members each year for a range of mental health conditions, and deals with the broader Australian community through our work operating services including the beyondblue Support Service, and other telehealth mental health services which connect callers with experienced mental health professionals,” Dr Wilson says.
“Medibank remains committed to working with the community to help tackle the issues facing Australia’s mental health system, this year providing a $75,000 grant to support vital work by the Society for Mental Health Research. Medibank also undertakes significant work to help address and raise awareness of the mental health issues facing society, most recently releasing the mental health white paper.”
The paper, titled The Case for Mental Health Reform in Australia, was released last November following a two-day workshop involving Australia’s leading thinkers in mental health. It provides recommendations in relation to the funding and delivery of mental health services.
“As an organisation committed to the health of its members and Australians generally, Medibank is proud of the key role we play in preventative health in the area of mental health, and will continue to work with its partners to raise get action on this critical issue.”