This year the theme for World Mental Health Day was "Mental health is a universal right." According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a basic human right, transcending borders and backgrounds. Every individual has the right to be shielded from mental health risks, access quality care, and enjoy liberty, independence, and inclusion within their community.
Regrettably, individuals with mental health conditions often face exclusion and discrimination, resulting in adverse effects on their physical health and life expectancy. Data reveals that Australians with mental health conditions are more susceptible to physical health issues, emphasising the critical need for integrated care and wellbeing support.
In Australia, an estimated 1 in 6 people live with a disability, and mental health conditions can both cause and be a consequence of disability. Sadly, Australians living with disability, particularly psychosocial disability, experience significantly higher rates of anxiety and depression. An estimated 36% of people with severe or profound disability self-reported that they had mood (affective) disorders such as depression, compared with 32% of people with other forms of disability, and 8.7% of people without disability.
The recent Disability Royal Commission report shed light on the challenging realities faced by people with disability, highlighting the urgent need for specialised health and mental health services. While Australia may be deemed a "lucky" country, there is still a long road ahead in altering societal perceptions around mental health and acknowledging its intrinsic value alongside physical health.
Days like World Mental Health Day play a crucial role in bringing mental health issues to the forefront of public consciousness but we must continue these conversations everyday. For those living with disabilities, the impact of poor mental health can be especially pronounced, exacerbating social isolation and disadvantage. By sharing these statistics, we amplify the voices advocating for those who may not be able to speak for themselves.
Mental health affects every facet of life—physical health, social interactions, and the ability to work or study. Access to mental health services is not just beneficial; it is essential for the overall wellbeing of individuals. Let us all do our part and continue raising awareness, fostering understanding, and advocating for a society where mental health is universally recognised and supported.
Together, we can make strides towards a world where mental health is indeed a universal right.