Report points the way for mental health wellbeing and resilience

 Taking a tour of construction at the Acute Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit and the Women's and Children's Hospital at the Canberra Hospital.

Stressful life events, high job insecurity and strain, and financial hardship were among the most significant contributing factors to poor mental wellbeing, according to a new report I launched today.

The ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing in the ACT’ report showcases results from the Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life Project, which studied residents of Canberra and Queanbeyan over the last 12 years.

Higher levels of physical activity were found to be associated with better mental health while those undertaking a moderate level of volunteer work were also found to maintain wellbeing.

While a majority of Canberra residents experience good mental health, younger adults, particularly younger women, and carers of another with a disability were also found to be vulnerable.

The ACT Government has a strong commitment to the promotion of mental health and wellbeing, the prevention of mental illness and suicide and the provision of early intervention for those experiencing mental illness.

Since 2001 we have increased recurrent spending on mental health from $27.4million in 2001 – 2002, to $77.8 million in 2009 – 2010, an increase of 183%. The 2011-12 Budget includes $1 million annually for expansion services.

The following key themes will inform the Government’s considerations for policy and program development;

  • Targeting vulnerable population groups and life stages;
  • Workplace mental health;
  • Integrated approaches to improving mental health and wellbeing;
  • Promoting positive mental health; and
  • Raising the association of mental health as a co-morbid factor with other other health risk factors .

I’m very pleased to present this report today. It is an excellent example of the collaborative work between the Centre for Mental Health Research at the Australian National University and the ACT Health Directorate, and will go on to inform Government priorities.