Prof. Patrick McGorry thinks the enormous economic and personal strain of mental illness in Australia calls for a radical re-imagining of how we treat it.
Every year in Australia around 3,000 people die from suicide. Most have sought help from our health system, but it has failed them and their bereaved families and friends. Suicide clusters hidden from public view are claiming the lives of large numbers of young people in regional and metropolitan Australia. If these deaths were due to a viral epidemic or road trauma there would be decisive action.
However, suicide is the just tip of a massive iceberg. Four million Australians experience mental illness every year and it impacts nearly all families. With 690,000 experiencing severe mental illness, it is the largest cause of disability, yet less than 10 per cent can access the NDIS. Mental illness causes nearly 15 per cent of the health burden, similar to heart disease and cancer, yet it is allocated just over 5 per cent of the health budget.