Substance dependency, mental health, and chronic stress remain the principal concerns for people seeking treatment at The Banyans Health and Wellness, the latest quarterly report figures have shown.
The number of people receiving treatment at The Banyans Health and Wellness Residence in the three months to March 31, 2021, has increased 56% from the previous December quarter, and has almost doubled from the same quarter last year, which was impacted heavily by COVID-19.
With 73% of guests in the March 2021 quarter presenting with substance misuse, it was the highest intake category at The Banyans Health and Wellness.
The Banyans Health and Wellness Addiction Medicine Specialist Dr Christian Rowan says the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the social and economic impact of the events of 2020, has had an overwhelming impact on the mental wellbeing of Australians, leading to increased substance abuse.
“Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are on the rise throughout the world, and Australia is no exception. With heightened anxiety, people are increasing their substance use, and misuse, be it alcohol or illicit substances, or both,” says Dr Rowan.
The number of guests receiving treatment for their mental health remained steady during the first quarter of 2021. However, enquiries made to the luxury rehabilitation centre regarding trauma and anxiety concerns both rose 40% compared with the previous quarter, and enquiries regarding depression increased 19%.
“These numbers are not surprising, but are still worrying for Australia’s wellbeing,” says The Banyans Health and Wellness Clinical Director Peter Hayton.
“The figures reinforce the growing view that Australians are increasingly needing help with their mental health in 2021. Thankfully, people are reaching out and starting the journey towards improving both their own mental health, and the mental health of their loved ones.”
Requests for information regarding mental health, multiple addictions, illicit drug, and alcohol misuse were 73% of phone and online enquiries through The Banyans Health and Wellness website.
In the first 90 days of 2021, 330 mental health program enquiries were made to the Banyans, equating to more than three per day.
Most enquiries to The Banyans Health and Wellness continued to be made by females (62%), indicating females were more likely to ask for help for themselves or their loved ones.
“Females are more usually more likely to reach out for help, either for themselves or for a member of their family. With the past 15 months being a time of heightened anxiety and depression, women are taking on more of the mental load, and that includes asking for help,” says Peter.
Unsurprisingly, due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 uncertainty, Queensland-based enquiries increased, while requests for information from New South Wales and Victoria remained the same. Contact via telephone and email from overseas was down.
The Banyans Chief Executive Officer Ruth Limkin says the first quarter 2021 figures reinforce calls for a targeted focus on, and increased funding for, mental health programs as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be profound and long-term.
“The world is in crisis and everyone, including Australians, is feeling that deeply,” says Ruth.
“All Australians deserve the opportunity to have strong support systems and to learn the skills to help them heal and thrive.”
Almost four in five, around 80%, of 5000 participants of a survey taken in Melbourne in March-April 2020, reported that during that time and since the outbreak of COVID-19 their mental health had worsened. Results showed that around the same percentage of people were experiencing high levels of uncertainty about the future, and half of respondents reporting moderate to extreme loneliness and worry about their financial situation.
The growing strain on Australia’s mental health system and its workforce needs to be recognised and addressed, Ruth says.
“Many mental health services in Australia are at capacity and are struggling with long wait lists, fragmented services, and inadequate training and funding,” she says, adding the situation was putting health professionals themselves under more pressure.
“We encourage increased government funding for mental health positions to ensure that our health professionals are not dealing with burnout themselves as the pandemic-led mental health crisis grows.”
To enquire about a tailored program at The Residence, please call on 1300 226 926, email [email protected] or complete an online form for a confidential discussion about how you or someone you care about can benefit from The Banyans.