Thursday, 25 September 2008

Mental illness more prevalent among youth

A new report on children's health shows that young people's mental health may not be improving, as was previously thought.

The Australia 21 research group says more than 20 per cent of all young people suffer psychological distress and up to 50 per cent display stress-related symptoms.

The report's author, Richard Eckersely, says the sharp increase in mental illness shows that governments have to take a more holistic approach to health.

"We have to stop seeing health as simply a matter of the number of GPs, how our public services are going and recognise these problems have their roots in quite fundamental aspects of our society, from things like family conflict and breakdown, work life pressures, poverty, inequality," he said.

Mr Eckersely says the findings contradict the accepted view that young people's health is improving.

"That relies primarily on declining death rates but you can't rely on those measures any more and when you look much more widely at young people and wellbeing, particularly mental health, then it looks like the picture is one of decline rather than improvement," he said.

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