Eighty per cent of Australian voters believe mental health should be a key priority for the next federal government, a nationwide poll by Orygen has found.
The poll results, released this week, revealed four in five Australians think there needs to be more government investment in youth mental health.
The results also showed seven out of 10 undecided voters see mental health as a pressing issue for the incoming federal government.
The Orygen poll was independently conducted by YouGov in February, canvassing 2,000 people to provide an insight into voters’ attitudes in the lead up to the Australian federal election on 21 May.
Young voters aged 18 to 24 singled out mental health funding as a key election issue, along with climate change, economic management and job security.
Orygen Executive Director Professor Patrick McGorry said the poll results reinforced the expert findings of the recent Productivity Commission into mental health, among other official inquries.
“Voters are backing what the experts already know – our mental health system is failing to provide care for many thousands of young people and greater investment is needed.
“I am particularly concerned about those who are too unwell for primary level services, such as headspace, but not unwell enough to meet the threshold for tertiary specialist or inpatient care.
“They are falling through the ‘missing middle’ – the service gap whose scale and impact has been blown wide open by the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted young people.”
With so many voters still undecided, the missing middle in mental health care services was shaping up to be a key election issue, Professor McGorry said.
“In dollar terms alone, the underfunding and neglect of our mental health care system is costing the nation $200 billion per year*. The system is broken.
“The new federal government must step up for our young people and invest in a national network of mental health services in local communities that provide access to care where there is currently a gap in the system.
“Australia has spoken – it’s time to fill the missing middle.”
The big picture of attitudes to mental health in Australia
- One in three people rate access to mental health treatment for young people as poor or very poor;
- Young voters (aged 18 to 24) singled out mental health funding as a key election issue, along with climate change, economic management and job security;
- Eighty-five per cent of voters say mental health services for young people should extend beyond headspace and GPs;
- Three-quarters of voters aged 18-24 believe young people with serious mental illness are currently unable to access the specialist care they need;
- Eighty per cent of Australian voters believe mental health should be a key priority for the next federal government;
- Seven out of 10 undecided voters see mental health as a pressing issue for the incoming federal government; and
- Four in five Australians think there needs to be more government investment in, and services for, youth mental health.
For a report on the results of the poll, click here.