Mental disorders and mental health care in Canada and Australia: Comparative epidemiological findings
Authors: Raymond Tempier, Graham N. Meadows, Helen-Maria Vasiliadis, Karen E. Mosier, Alain Lesage, Anna Stiller, Annette Graham, and Marje Lepnurm
Background Canada and Australia although geographically distant have similarities in human geography and history. Each has had a national mental health policy for some years, but Australia has driven policy implementation in this area harder than has Canada. Comparable epidemiological surveys from Australia in 1997 and Canada in 2002 allow us to explore relative rates of mental disorders and compare estimates of access to care from mental health services. Methods We compare findings from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (1997) with those from the Canadian Community Health Survey on Mental Health and Well Being, cycle 1.2 (2002). Results Differences in prevalence rates and in service utilisation emerge between the two countries: Anxiety Disorders are estimated as almost 2% higher in Canada than in Australia while there is suggestion that Major Depressive Disorder, Alcohol Dependence and Drug Dependence may be more prevalent in Australia. More of the people with co-morbid disorders in Australia than in Canada make use of mental health services and a finding of marginal significance suggests that this may be true across all disorders. Conclusions Causation cannot be determined from this study but possible explanations for differences in prevalence include changes in global economic, political and security contexts and concerns between 1997 and 2002 and the possible role of greater availability of alcohol in Australia. The findings also provide encouragement that strenuously implementing a national mental health policy may have been of benefit to people with mental health problems in Australia.
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