Distress rising, services falling

As West Australians we pride ourselves on our quality of life.  But new data from the ABS shows psychological distress growing in WA.  Yet health services are being cut and privatised and WA has one of the worst mental health service systems in Australia.  Do something about it here!

An analysis conducted by Save Our Services of the ABS Australian Health Survey for 2011-12 and the earlier 2007-08 National Health Survey has shown that:

  • Those in WA experiencing high to very high psychological stress increased by 18.5% while nationally this had declined by 3.1%;
  • WA was found to have a large increase in distressed persons overall compared with Australia as a whole (12.6% to 8.2%);
  • The largest increase was for women with high to very high stress: 29.4% increase in WA compared to -4.1% nationally.

Derived from the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale the ABS used 10 questions about negative emotional states in the past 30 days.  In WA those with high or very high distress levels numbered an estimated 184,500.

Work-related stress, road-rage triggered by traffic congestion and financial worries related to high costs of living are all likely to be factors.

For those with even more serious mental ill-health, distress levels can cause serious harm. 

Comparing suicide rates from 2001-2005 with 2006-2010, the ABS has previously found that Australia-wide these have fallen however rates have increased in WA. These deaths remain highest among men and among Indigenous Australians, where unemployment is very high.

The suicide rate has risen in Perth, from 11.4 to 12.2 per 100,000 people and the increase in the rest of WA from 15.1 to 18.5 is a real worry.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call Lifeline (13 11 14), Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) or Kids Helpline (for young people aged 5 to 25 years) (1800 551 800).

Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry has described WA's mental health services as the worst in Australia and recently doctors in WA have warned of the dangers of mental health service under-funding.

Those with poor mental health are often unable to advocate for better services as well as those with greater financial and personal resources. 

That’s why it’s important to share the word about the need for better services.