Corporate mental health program finds depression is Australia’s primary mental health disorder, and mental illness may have risen by a third in the last decade
The results of Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-In, The Cornerstone of the New Medibio Corporate Health Offering finds that one third of program participants were suffering from some form of mental illness: with 36% suffering from depression, 33% from anxiety, and 31% from stress. This is the first time depression has exceeded anxiety (in that anxiety has traditionally been twice as common as depression.
The program that included approximately 3,500 employees across 41 organisations from a range of industries was conducted by mental health technology leader, Medibio (ASX: MEB). It synthesised responses from 100 profiling questions, as well as capturing heart-rate data using wearable devices during sleep – to provide a new, more objective understanding of employee mental health.
Medibio SVP of Corporate Health, Psychologist, and Check-in program Creator Peta Slocombe, said:
“A decade ago one in five Australians were found to be suffering from a mental illness in any given year. The manner in which we all live, work and interact has changed radically since then – to the detriment of our mental health. And yet organisational approaches to mental health have not kept pace. It is now vital for all organisations, from Government to business, to change the way they address this major societal challenge.”
Further key findings include:
Depression is now the greatest issue impacting Australians who participated. Australia’s last official figures in 2007 list anxiety (14.4%) as more than twice as common as depression (6.2%).
Most people did not realise they had a mental health disorder. (73%) of men who scored in clinical ranges for a mental health disorder were unaware they had one at the time of the survey, or previously, i.e. Australian males are in danger of appearing ok, until they’re not ok. This compares to 58% of women.
Most people, even in severe ranges, were not seeking help. Of those in moderate to severe ranges, only 17% of were engaged in any form of treatment.
Mental illness is still considered too difficult to raise with a manager: Less than half (47%) of Australians are comfortable disclosing a mental health condition to a manager.
Medibio’s biometric assessment showed that 40% of scans completed were indicative of autonomic nervous system disruption, with men more than 2/3rd as likely to have a more severe scan reading than women.
Female perfectionism and self-criticism are strongly linked to anxiety. 33% of women are in high ranges for perfectionism, compared to 21% of men. 44% of females use self-criticism as a primary stress response, compared to 34% of men.
Men are at risk of appearing “ok”, until they’re not ok. Men have low emotional expression when stressed, and are less likely to seek social supports. Trying to ‘problem solve’ alone are hallmarks of corporate males surrounding their mental health.
Employees from 41 Australian firms have taken part in the Check-In. Amongst them, leading global professional services consultancy, Jacobs. Jacobs participated as part of its health and safety program BeyondZero®, which supports the mental health and wellness need of its 75,000 employees worldwide.
Speaking from its Sydney HQ, Ross Jones, Vice President, Strategic Growth Asia Pacific & Middle East, said:
“At Jacobs, we understand the importance of maintaining a workplace where people feel safe asking for help, knowing that mental health is essential to the overall wellness of our employees. We are proud to be the first in our industry to participate in the Biggest Mental Health Check-in, not only because it demonstrates our commitment. We also hope to inspire peer companies to stand with us to support mental health.”
The Mental Health Check-In, recognised on social media by Medibio board member, Michael Phelps, is designed to make it easier, more accessible, and standard practice to undertake a mental health check. Importantly, the program is designed to equip individuals to take action on their mental health. For the first time, wearable technologies, such as a Garmin, FitBit, or Apple Watch, will be able to track and monitor individuals’ circadian heart rhythm (CHR), sleep cycles and activity, to round out an objective understanding of the onset and existence of mental dysfunction, such as anxiety, depression and stress. Peta Slocombe added:
“Depression is estimated to cost Australia $12.6 billion annually and this year’s Check-In shows the issue is rising – cutting across all aspects of society. It’s clear, then that we need a step change in addressing mental illness. Using innovative technology, we can now understand how our heads and hearts are tracking – shifting from subjective to objective diagnosis and in doing so, accelerate diagnosis and treatment.”
Slocombe also said, “The idea of the Mental Health Check-In was born out of the fact that we as a global society don’t think about taking care of our mental health in the same way we do our physical health. It’s time that we change that. What’s more, the Check-in the first step in our comprehensive Medibio Corporate Health offering which includes products and services designed to help employers optimize performance, minimize risk, and better care for their most valuable asset; their people.”
More information on the Medibio Corporate Health program and Mental Health Check-in registration can be found here.
¹Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) October 2008
²Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) October 2008
For further information, or a briefing, please contact: Olivia Blunt, Res Publica PR:
About Medibio Limited:
Medibio (ASX: MEB) (OTCQB: MDBIF) is a mental health technology company that has pioneered the use of objective biometrics to assist in the screening, diagnosing, monitoring and management of depression and other mental health conditions. The company was founded in Australia, with offices located in Melbourne (Vic), and U.S. offices in Minneapolis, MN. Medibio is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange Ltd and trades on the OTCQB Venture Market. Investors can find additional information on www.otcmarkets.com and www.asx.com.au.
About Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-In:
3,500 individuals participated in the Check-in, across four, four week periods, between October 2016 and December 2017. The Check-in included an online survey of more than 100 profile questions, plus the concurrent wearing of Medibio ECG-grade heart rate devices. Biometric data assessing autonomic function and circadian patterns was captured over 1,641 nights. The check-in used Circadian Heart Rhythm (CHR) in combination with the online survey to assess factors including: stress; depression; anxiety; coping styles (i.e. the ability to manage difficult thoughts); sleep quality; resilience; self-awareness; and perfectionism – behaviours that may change when mental health issues are being experienced. Participants completing the Check-in received a 16-page dashboard and customised mental health program to their device. This is the second year that the Mental Health Check in has been run, last year’s report and findings can be found here.