Mission Australia’s State Director Mychelle Curran joins Dave on R U OK Day to look at the latest research which shows more than one in four (26.5%) young people in Tasmania said they are experiencing physiological distress in 2020; an increase since 2012 where the figure was close to one in five.
The Psychological distress in young people in Australia fifth biennial youth mental health report: 2012-2020 explores Mission Australia’s Youth Survey findings – and is co-authored with Black Dog Institute experts – to better understand the prevalence and experiences of psychological distress faced by 15-19 year-olds in Tasmania.
The report explores how young people with mental health challenges navigate life by looking at the responses of young people who answered questions measuring psychological distress in 2020. It also examines their help-seeking behaviours – illustrating the important role that friends, parents, services, schools and the internet and apps play as sources of support for young people who are experiencing psychological distress.
In light of the findings, Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute are calling for more action from governments, schools, families, businesses and others to prioritise tailored, timely and accessible mental health support, in an effort to reduce the prevalence of mental ill-health among young people in Tasmania.
In response to the report’s findings, Mission Australia’s State Director Mychelle Curran said:
“There are significant gaps in the mental health support system that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. More age-appropriate prevention and early intervention mental health services are needed, and for these to be effective, young people must be central to the co-design, development and adaptation of such services and tools – both at school and within their communities.
“We all have a duty to safeguard young people’s wellbeing and properly support the growing number of young people contending with mental health challenges. Every young person in Tasmania should have access to appropriate supports at the time they need it, regardless of their gender, location, background or any other circumstances, and most definitely under special circumstances like a global pandemic. A key part of this includes further investment in evidence-based digital mental health services.”
Black Dog Institute’s Director of Research, Professor Jennie Hudson said: “Global research tells us that over 75% of mental health issues develop before the age of 25, and these can have lifelong consequences.
“We are still in the dark as to why mental health and suicide risk has increased in our current cohort of youth, a finding that is not unique to Australia.
“Early intervention in adolescence and childhood is imperative to help reduce these figures. This report shows that young people in distress will seek help directly from friends, parents and the internet. As such, we need to continue to build gatekeeper support training and provide online and app-based tools that may be a key part of the solution – something we are invested in doing at the Black Dog Institute.”
Key findings include:
- More than one in four young Tasmanians met the criteria that revealed they are experiencing psychological distress (26.5%) – an increase of 9.1% since 2012.
- Close to two in five (38.5%) young females in TAS say they are experiencing psychological distress, compared with 12.7% of young males (lowest of all locations for 2020). There was an increase in psychological distress for young females since 2012 (by 17.4%).
- Close to one in three (32.4%) Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander young people from TAS report experiencing psychological distress, compared with 26.2% for non-Indigenous young people – an increase of 10.5% in psychological distress for non-Indigenous young people and a decrease of 5.1% in psychological distress for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander young people since 2012.
- Close to two in five (37.8%) young people with disability in TAS report experiencing psychological distress, while more than quarter (26.0%) of young people without disability said they are experiencing psychological distress – an increase in psychological distress for young people without disability (by 10.5%) and a slight decrease for young people with disability (1.8%) since 2012.
- Psychological distress increased across all age groups in 2020 for TAS since 2012: 15 year olds 32.9% (the largest proportion for the age group by location) vs. 17.2%, 16 year olds 25.1% vs. 18.2%, 17 year olds 26.3% vs. 16.7% and 18-19 year olds 26.3% vs. 17.7%).
- The following findings are based solely on the 2020 Youth Survey data:
o Of the young people from TAS that reported experiencing psychological distress, 7.8% said they felt they have no control over their lives, which was the highest proportion of all locations.
o The top three personal issues for young people in TAS with psychological distress are coping with stress (79.8% – highest proportion for all locations), mental health (70.8% – highest proportion for all locations) and body image (64.8%). More than a quarter (26.7%) of young people from TAS with psychological distress are concerned about suicide, however, this is the lowest proportion of all locations.
o Close to a third (32.8%) of young people from TAS with psychological distress report sleeping 6 hours or less each night – lowest proportion of all locations.
o Less than ten percent (6.8%) of young people in TAS with psychological distress state they did no exercise in a week – lowest proportion of all locations.
o More than two in five (44.0%) young people from TAS with psychological distress said they were treated unfairly in the past year and the top three reasons for this unfair treatment were gender (52.9% – highest proportion of all locations), mental health (42.4%) and sexuality (29.4%). Race/culture came in fourth place and was 17.6% – lowest proportion of all locations.
o The top three sources young people in TAS with psychological distress report they seek help from are friend/s (73.8%), parents/guardians (53.6% – highest proportion of all locations) and internet and/or GP/health professional (both 50.0%). Meanwhile, the top three barriers to seeking help for these young people are feeling scared/anxious (71.0%), feeling embarrassed (68.9%) and feeling they can deal with it myself (68.9%). All three proportions were the highest proportions for each barrier by location.