Despite years of more psychiatry, mental health is not improving
In both the United States and Australia there have been years of marketing messages about the need for more psychiatric funding, and more psychiatric reach into communities, with billions of dollars spent on psychiatric drugs and treatments.
Yet, mental health in neither country is improving, with one of the few tangible statistics for the area – suicides – soaring over 20-year trends for both.
If things continue as they are more and more health funds will be poured into psychiatry with more and more people ‘mentally ill’. Just when was all of this supposed to actually improve mental health?
The USA is without question the country that has been subjected to the most psychiatric influence in terms of drugs and other treatments.
Studies into the use of psychiatric drugs have found that in the 1988-1994 period the use of psychotropic drugs was 6.1% of the USA population. By 1999 – 2002 that had shifted to 11.1%. 1 A study using data from 2013 found that figures had gone up to 16.7% or roughly 1 in 6 Americans were using psychiatric drugs. 2
And yet, despite more diagnoses, more drugs, and more “treatments”, suicide trends in the United States have continued to soar over a 20-year period of available statistics.
USA suicide statistics
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality.
While Australia has a much smaller population it is just behind the United States in terms of psychiatric drug use per capita.
For 2019 – 2020 in Australia, then with a population of 25.69 million:
- 40.7 million mental health-related medications were dispensed in 2019–20.
- 4.4 million patients (17.2% of the Australian population) filled a prescription for a mental health-related medication in 2019–20, with an average of 9.2 prescriptions per patient.
Yet, suicide trends in Australia are also on at least a 20-year worsening trend with these astonishingly high levels of psychotropic drug use doing absolutely nothing to improve the situation
Australia Suicide statistics
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Suicide and Self-harm Monitoring. National Mortality Database—Suicide.
Australian Mental Health Related Prescriptions
Data is available for Australia regarding some trends for psychiatric drug use and while not covering the 20-year trends of the suicide statistics, still shows long trends of rising usage. The ‘Subsidized Prescriptions’ are those paid for through the Government-funded Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and are included here to show a longer trend line.
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Mental health services in Australia: Mental health-related prescriptions.
- Paulose-Ram R, Safran MA, Jonas BS, Gu Q, Orwig D. Trends in psychotr… medication use among U.S. adults. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2007
- Thomas J. Moore, Donald R. Mattison. Adult Utilization of Psychiatric Drugs and Differences by Sex, Age, and Race JAMA Intern Med. 2017