Health report focuses on mental health of young Tasmanians

With results from St.LukesHealth’s Tasmanian Health Report snapshot revealing young Tasmanians continue to have higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to the national average, St.LukesHealth is extending its support for mental health care by introducing benefits for counselling services.
“In order to understand how we could improve the health outcomes of young Tasmanians, in 2018 St.LukesHealth launched a ‘first of its kind’ Health Report to delve into the current and future health trends affecting those aged 25 to 34,” St.LukesHealth Head of Member Delivery Luke Cameron said.
“St.LukesHealth commissioned a snapshot of this same report in 2019, focusing on the progress made over the past 12 months in the three key areas of mental, sexual and dental health.
“While little progress has been made in the dental and sexual health space in the past year, the report does highlight a slight increase in those accessing professional help for mental health problems.
“The evidence produced in this report has provided St.LukesHealth with the opportunity to get on the front foot and be proactive in the mental health space.
“To help encourage Tasmanians to seek support for mental ill health and early intervention services, St.LukesHealth is introducing benefits for counselling services – where previously members could only access benefits for mental health if they presented to a clinical psychologist.
“St.LukesHealth believes that with the addition of a new counselling benefit, we will be able to assist our members to access timely mental health support.
“Since the introduction of the psychiatric care waiting period exemption in 2018, a proportion of our members have used this to access urgent care which is positive to see, but we still need to continue to support these individuals and help them before they get to this stage.”
Accredited mental health social worker Rob Pearce, from RCP, said it was important for people to engage with a professional in the early onset of poor mental health rather than wait for the dark clouds to roll in.

“Consulting with a mental health professional should be as common as booking your car in for a service. Just as your car needs to be in good running order, a regular check and tune up for your mental motor will keep it in good running order too.

“Personal mental health is more valuable than new season’s clothing, eating at posh restaurants or driving a flash car, they don’t soften the hard experiences of depression or anxiety.
“Developing a range of personalised tools to put in your psychological toolbox is easy with the help of a qualified mental health professional and accessing the St.LukesHealth counselling benefit is easy and a great way to prevent poor mental health outcomes.”
The Tasmanian Health Report identified that:

  • Around one third (37 per cent) of 25 to 34-year-olds reported seeking professional help for a mental health problem in the past year.
  • In the two-year period of the analysis, 1,186 potentially preventable hospitalisations were identified in 918 patients aged 25 to 34 years, at an estimated cost of $2.6 million.
  • The most common causes of these potentially preventable hospitalisations were asthma, dental conditions, convulsions and epilepsy.
  • 38.4 per cent of 25 to 34-year-olds in Tasmania reported brushing their teeth only once a day.
  • 15.6 per cent of Tasmanians in this age group reported having an STI, most commonly chlamydia.
  • Tasmania’s Medicare related pathology costs for STI testing and hospital presentations for STIs or related conditions resulted in an annual cost of treating and detecting STIs at over $1 million.

Mr Cameron said while some health costs were unavoidable, the brief snapshot shows that potentially preventable hospitalisations, mental health management and oral health care for 25 to 34-year-olds costs the Tasmanian economy millions each year.
“This health data provides an incredible insight into Tasmania’s future and cannot be ignored,” Mr Cameron said.
“The results of the 2019 health report reinforce the need to relieve pressures on our health system
we need to support our young people and their families to form life-long healthy habits, so they don’t become the chronically ill of tomorrow.
“St.LukesHealth is working to help address some of these complex health issues with a range of initiatives including the introduction of the Gap Free Preventative dental program in 2013, a post-natal program to support new families, the introduction of benefits for counselling services as well as the upcoming launch of a new program to support expectant parents.”

To access the snapshop, please click here.

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