BENDIGO residents were suffering from some of the worst mental health in the state at the time Census data was collected last year.
The findings, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showed that depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions were experienced by a far higher proportion of people in Bendigo than the Victorian average.
It was the first time the Census had posed the question about mental health, prompting the revelation that 13 per cent of Bendigo residents had been suffering from some kind of mental health condition, compared to the Victorian average of 8.8 per cent.
Bendigo was second only to the greater metropolitan area of Brunswick-Coburg for Victorian areas contending with mental health conditions. Brunswick-Coburg returned a result of 13.4 per cent, topping all other areas.
ABS head of health and disability statistics Linda Fardell said anxiety had proven to be been the most common type of mental disorders experienced in Australia.
These disorders included:
"Nationally, more than two in five (43.7 per cent) Australians aged 16 - 85 years have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime," she said.
Ms Fardell said young women appeared to have been more affected than young men.
"Almost half (46.6 per cent) of young females and one third (31.2 per cent) of young males aged 16 - 24 years had a mental disorder in 2020-21," she said.
The Australian Psychological Society president Tamara Cavenett said regional areas like Bendigo deserved better access to support services.
"Your postcode should never determine your mental health and it is unacceptable that so many people in Bendigo are suffering from conditions like anxiety or depression that are preventable and treatable with the right supports in place," she said.
"We are urgently calling on the federal government to commit to increase the psychology workforce and replicate GP regional relocation incentives for psychologists to ensure Bendigo gets the same access to a psychologist as those in metropolitan cities."
Ms Fardell said people most commonly turned to their GPs for help.
"Of people with a mental disorder in 2020-21, almost half had at least one consultation with a health professional for their mental health," she said.
"In addition to these consultations, 4.4 per cent (or 864,100) of Australians accessed at least one digital service for their mental health, such as crisis support or counselling services and online treatment programs or tools."
If you would like to speak to somebody, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
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