Health Voices Survey Results | June 2018

What we heard about mental health in June 2018

It's estimated that of our population (644,457 ) almost 20 per cent (or 126,314 people aged 18-85 years) will experience mental ill-health.

Health Voices who had an interest or experience of the mental health system, were recently asked about  activities and services, including: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, perinatal health, children's mental health and suicide prevention.

Responses by region and relationship to mental health


What people do to improve or maintain their mental health

It's not surprising that exercise, including walking was the top choice for improving or maintaining mental health. Exercise makes you feel good, as it releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve mood. It may also help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, by connecting people. The top 10 responses were:

  1. Exercise, including walking 50%
  2. Help from a health professional, mentor, including therapy 26%
  3. Food and diet 26%
  4. Meditation, mindfulness and spirituality 26%
  5. Talking with family and friends 21%
  6. Rest and relaxation 21%
  7. Ensuring a work/life balance 15%
  8. Self care and self-care plans 12%
  9. Helping others and providing support 12%
  10. Doing a hobby 12%

Some other answers included: writing, medication, vitamins, being outdoors, reading books, listening to music, sleeping well, laughing, work, support groups and having a positive attitude.


Phone and online mental health support that people have accessed in the past 12 months


Where people  would go, or suggest someone to go for:

People could choose more than one option below. The responses indicate to us that a multi-disciplinary approach, which is when professionals from a range of disciplines work together to deliver comprehensive care that addresses as many of the patient's needs as possible, is the best approach for supporting patients mental health care needs.

Perinatal mental health support (top 5)

  1. GP 85%
  2. Maternal child and health service 59%
  3. Family and friends 38%
  4. Telephone or web-based support 29%
  5. Community health 21%

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander  mental health support (top 5)

  1. Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation 85%
  2. GP 74%
  3. Family or friends 35%
  4. Hospital 15%
  5. Telephone or web-based support 15%

Traditional healers, aunties, uncles and elders were also mentioned.

Children's  mental health support (top 5)

  1. GP 82%
  2. Maternal child and health service 53%
  3. Community health service 38%
  4. Family or friends 24%
  5. Telephone or web-based support 24%

Someone experiencing suicidal thoughts and/or behaviours (top 5)

  1. Lifeline, or other phone or web-based support 71%
  2. GP 65%
  3. Hospital 47%
  4. Emergency services (calling 000) 41%
  5. Family or friends 21%


Accessing, or assisting someone to access mental health services within daytime hours (6am-6pm) in the past 12 months:

How long it took the service to respond

Responses ranged from immediately/the same day to within a week and up to several weeks and far too long. Comments included:

How respect was, or was not shown

While respect was mainly shown, it appears that more improvements can be made, particularly in the way of having a non-judgmental attitude towards people who are experiencing mental ill-health.

Why or why not the service was effective

Reasons for services not being effective included: accessibility, including long-wait times, affordability. Reasons why they were effective were due to having a relationship and understanding needs. Comments included:

Accessing, or assisting someone to access mental health services within out-of-hours hours (6pm-6am) in the past 12 months:

How long it took the service to respond

Responses included that services were not available, or weren't in a timely manner and police welfare checks were used instead of a mental health service.

How respect was, or was not shown

Responses included that concerns were heard and responded to however, it was felt that some staff still required training.

Why or why not was the service effective

Reasons for not being effective included time delays and staff shortages and reasons why they were effective were having prior relationships and therefore medical history was known.


What can be  expanded or introduced into communities, to support, maintain or improve mental health

We received an overwhelming number of responses to this question. Some of the common threads were: more support groups, programs and promotion of what programs, or services are available to communities. More public awareness and knowledge of different mental health conditions and how treatment can be accessed through forums, exhibitions, seminars and awareness campaigns. Mental health first aid, meditation and exercise were also mentioned several times. Standout individual responses were:


Murray PHN recognises that stigma is a major barrier to people accessing help. Stigma can also impact on people's lives from friendships, career opportunities and their own self-worth. To promote mental health in a positive and supportive way, we have created the Stop Mental Illness Stigma charter. For more details click here.

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