Mental health - a growing concern

10 Oct 2012

World Mental Health Day 2012 – “Depression: A Global Crisis”

The AMA supports World Mental Health Day and its 2012 theme, “Depression: A Global Crisis”.

The World Health Organization estimates that depression affects more than 350 million people worldwide of all ages, in all communities, and is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease.

AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said that depression is just one of many mental health problems that afflict Australian families every day in growing numbers.

Professor Dobb said that raising public awareness about mental health issues and improving access to mental health services must remain priorities for all levels of government.

“Good mental health is vital to our wellbeing - it allows us to think and learn and interact meaningfully with others,” Professor Dobb said.

“But the number of people around the world, including Australia, experiencing mental illness is increasing.

“People need information and education to know the signs of mental health problems and where to go for help.

“GPs are trusted providers of mental health care and advice at the local level.  In 2008-09, more than 13.2 million GP patient encounters involved management of a mental health issue.

“Many Australians already have an established relationship with their local GP, who can provide advice and refer patients to the most appropriate care for their condition.

“GPs provide continuity of care over time, and it is not uncommon for general practitioners to treat families across generations.  They offer early intervention and timely responses in mental health detection, diagnosis and referral, as well as ongoing management.

“It is important that GPs are supported in the key role they play in providing people with easy local access to mental health services.”

Professor Dobb said that the AMA has been active in advocating for better mental health services for some of the more disadvantaged in the community.

Mental health issues for prisoners and people in juvenile detention were raised in the AMA Position Statement on Health and the Criminal Justice System 2012, released in August, which is available at

Also in August, the AMA called on the Australian Parliament to establish an independent medical panel to oversee and report on the health services available to asylum seekers in on shore and offshore immigration detention facilities.  View the AMA media release at


  • Around one in three Australians experience mental illness at some stage in their life.
  • Mental illness accounts for 13 per cent of the total burden of disease in Australia, and is the largest single cause of disability, comprising 24 per cent of the burden of non-fatal disease.
  • Unlike any other chronic disease, mental illness affects people of all ages, with a significant impact on many young people.
  • 25 per cent of people with a mental disorder experience their first episode before the age of twelve – half a million children – and 64 per cent by age of 21.  Yet treatment rates for our young people are low; only 25 per cent for those aged between 15 and 24 receive treatment, for example.
  • Despite significant gains in primary mental health care more broadly, too many Australians with mental illness are still not seeking or receiving treatment – only around 46 per cent, compared to more than 80 per cent for comparably disabling physical ailments.


10 October 2012


CONTACT:         John Flannery                       02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                        Kirsty Waterford                  02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

Follow the AMA Media on Twitter:

Follow the AMA President on Twitter:

Media Contacts


 02 6270 5478
 0427 209 753

Follow the AMA

‌ @AustralianMedicalAssociation