A global review of the mental health sector says mental health services need to be more flexible and more integrated to address changing circumstances.
The Australian Mental Health Commission (AMPCC) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) released the findings of the report on Wednesday, in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report also found the mental wellbeing of Australians is improving.
It found that mental health expenditure increased by 7.9 per cent from 2010 to 2020, but this was the first time it had surpassed expenditure growth in other developed economies.
There has also been an improvement in mental health in Australia, with the number of people with a mental health diagnosis increasing by 2.6 per cent per year between 2010 and 2020, compared with 2.1 per cent in the same period in 2020.
The report found that in 2020, the median age for first admission to a mental hospital was 46 years, compared to 39 years in the previous year.
The number of psychiatrists in Australia has also increased from 3,000 to 3,500, compared the number in the UK.
The mental health of people living with chronic conditions and those who struggle with depression is also improving, the report found.
Dr Michael Schoeller, senior lecturer in the department of psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, said the report highlighted the importance of having an inclusive approach to mental health care.
“In order to do this, it needs to be done in a way that is culturally sensitive, which is why we need to recognise that we have to start from a place of trust,” he said.
“It needs to take into account the different cultural contexts of different communities and to acknowledge that we can do things differently, and that we should be more inclusive of cultures where we have a history of different approaches to mental illness.”
The report notes that more than half of people in Australia are still living with mental health conditions that make it difficult to manage their lives, including a lack of support and resources, and a lack, and reluctance to seek treatment.
Dr Schoell said there were some challenges that still need to improve in mental healthcare.
“One is that people are living with health issues in isolation, and it can be isolating and it’s not always going to work,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“The second is that we’re still dealing with some of the stigma that people still feel and feel a need to prove to society that they are not mentally ill.
We also have the challenge of the fact that the health system is fragmented, and there are not the same services for everyone in terms of services that we would like to have.
A report from the Victorian Mental Health and Developmental Services Agency says there are gaps in mental wellbeing services in Victorian and regional areas, with gaps in access to mental healthcare services.
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