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InPsych 2014 | Vol 36

Cover feature : Psychological intervention in high prevalence mental health disorders

Common, serious...and treatable. Psychological intervention in high prevalence mental health disorders.

Commonly occurring mental health disorders – depression, anxiety, stress-related and substance use disorders in adults, and behavioural and anxiety disorders in children – will be experienced by an alarming 45 per cent of Australians in their lifetime, according to the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Each year, 1 in 5 adults (aged 16-85 years) experience a high prevalence mental health disorder, while 1 in 7 children and adolescents (aged 4-17 years) experience common childhood mental health conditions.

High prevalence mental health disorders are a leading cause of disease burden in Australia and are important drivers of disability. Untreated, these common mental health disorders result in significant personal suffering, and individual and community costs associated with disruption to relationships, work and educational achievements, and home responsibilities. Research estimates of the economic costs alone associated with such psychological distress are a $5.9 billion reduction in Australian employee productivity per annum.

Importantly, evidence-based effective and cost-efficient psychological treatments are available for all of the commonly occurring mental health disorders. Previously only one third of people with these disorders accessed treatment, but reforms in Australian primary health care services over the last decade have significantly increased treatment rates and enabled millions of people to access funded psychological interventions. A 2014 Australian health policy study has attributed the remarkable rise in the treatment rates for mental health disorders solely to the inclusion of psychological treatment under Australia’s Medicare system since 2006. However, 50 per cent of Australians with common mental disorders are still not accessing treatment, so these important reforms need to be protected and built on.

This cover feature of InPsych showcases a summary compendium of evidence-based psychological treatment guidance from a panel of expert Australian psychologists for eight of the commonly occurring disorders, presenting assessment considerations for treatment formulation, key treatment guidance from the literature and emerging treatment directions for each disorder. This is followed by a discussion of the evidence for the cost-effectiveness of psychological interventions for high prevalence mental health disorders, being a major consideration in this era of tightened health budgets. Finally, some service delivery responses to facilitate access to psychological treatment for harder-to-reach consumer groups are presented. Together, the articles in this special presentation highlight the vital contribution of psychological knowledge and care to effective and cost-efficient treatment of serious yet all too common mental health disorders in millions of Australians.

Treatment guidance for common mental health disorders


Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on October 2014. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.