The National Mental Health Commission today welcomes the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) kick starting the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHW) – the first phase of the Australian Government’s $89 million Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study.
National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan said the reconfigured NSMHW is one of the most comprehensive studies of Australian’s mental health and wellbeing, and physical health.
“The National Study will help the Government, the Commission and community mental health leaders gain a greater understanding of Australian’s living experience of mental ill-health and mental health disorders, the challenges they face to their wellbeing, and corresponding impacts on their physical health,” Ms Morgan said.
“Following engagement with mental health experts, the Study will capture new information on self-harm, disordered eating, eating disorders and service use by people at risk of suicide.
“The Study will measure the impact of anxiety, mood and substance use disorders, suicide behaviours, the use of mental health services, while analysing the longitudinal outcomes.”
Throughout 2020, the collection of data and new research into the mental health and wellbeing challenges experienced by Australians due to the pandemic, was used to inform governments’ decision making. This data was foundational to informing quick and coordinated policy responses to increase services and supports where and when they were needed. Given the significance of this, the NSMHW is being undertaken at a crucial stage of mental health reform.
Commission Chair Lucy Brogden AM said the Study will provide contemporary evidence about the prevalence of mental illness, following the 2019-20 bushfires, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Never has there been a period in our recent history where so many Australians have faced challenges to their mental health,” Mrs Brogden said.
“The experiences of those living with mental ill-health will provide invaluable insight to further inform considerations for mental health reform.”
The NSMHW will be the first time we have comprehensively asked Australians about their mental health since 2007, and will be vital for planning services at the local level.
Data collection for the Study began in December 2020, so increased information could be obtained during the pandemic, as well as after it.
Up to 17,000 Australians aged 16 to 85 will take part in the Study, with the first results expected by the end of 2021.