Chronic disease increases mental health risk

Millions of Australians living with common health issues such as asthma, hypertension, arthritis, cancer and diabetes are at much greater risk of mental health conditions.

A new report, Australia’s Mental and Physical Health Tracker from the Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) at Victoria University is the first Australian study to quantify the risks of physical health conditions contributing to a wide range of mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.

Australia’s Mental and Physical Health Tracker is the latest report card in the Australia’s Health Tracker series, and reveals strong links between chronic physical ill health and mental ill health.

Released in Melbourne today, Professor Allan Fels AO, (AHPC Advisory Board member) said that the poor physical health and wellbeing of those with mental illness, and vice versa, was the “major weak point” of Australia’s generally good health system.

“With more than four million Australians living with a mental health conditions, we need to do much more to prevent diseases like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and asthma compounding the effects of mental health, “said Professor Fels.

321,400 Australians are living with diabetes and a mental health condition.

“We know there is strong evidence about the negative impact of mental health problems for people who already have chronic physical conditions, and equally strong evidence that having a mental health problem increases the risk of every single major chronic disease.” Prof Allan Fels AO.

“The data clearly indicates significant differences for females and males in both risk factors and with correlated chronic health conditions. Our latest report highlights that gender matters in policy and in practice.” Professor Calder AM. Full access to the media pack (graphics, report and background paper) available here.

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