St.LukesHealth’s responds to new health snapshot

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St.LukesHealth’s has announced it is extending its support for mental health care following the results of its Tasmanian Health Report that revealed young people in the state continue to have higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to the national average.

“In order to understand how we could improve the health outcomes of young Tasmanians, in 2018 St.LukesHealth launched a ‘first of its kind’ Health Report to delve into the current and future health trends affecting those aged 25 to 34,” said St.LukesHealth head of member delivery, Luke Cameron.

“St.LukesHealth commissioned a snapshot of this same report in 2019, focusing on the progress made over the past 12 months in the three key areas of mental, sexual and dental health.

“While little progress has been made in the dental and sexual health space in the past year, the report does highlight a slight increase in those accessing professional help for mental health problems."

According to the report, around one third (37 per cent) of 25 to 34-year-olds reported seeking professional help for a mental health problem in the past year.

“The evidence produced in this report has provided St.LukesHealth with the opportunity to get on the front foot and be proactive in the mental health space," continued Mr Cameron.

“To help encourage Tasmanians to seek support for mental ill health and early intervention services, St.LukesHealth is introducing benefits for counselling services – where previously members could only access benefits for mental health if they presented to a clinical psychologist.
“St.LukesHealth believes that with the addition of a new counselling benefit, we will be able to assist our members to access timely mental health support.
“Since the introduction of the psychiatric care waiting period exemption in 2018, a proportion of our members have used this to access urgent care which is positive to see, but we still need to continue to support these individuals and help them before they get to this stage.”

The report also found 1,186 potentially preventable hospitalisations were identified in 918 patients aged 25 to 34 years. They had an estimated cost of $2.6 million. The most common causes of these potentially preventable hospitalisations were asthma, dental conditions, convulsions and epilepsy.

Mr Cameron said while some health costs were unavoidable, the brief snapshot shows that preventable hospitalisations and mental health management cost the Tasmanian economy millions each year.
“This health data provides an incredible insight into Tasmania’s future and cannot be ignored,” said Mr Cameron.

“The results of the 2019 health report reinforce the need to relieve pressures on our health system we need to support our young people and their families to form life-long healthy habits, so they don’t become the chronically ill of tomorrow.
“St.LukesHealth is working to help address some of these complex health issues with a range of initiatives including the introduction of the Gap Free Preventative dental program in 2013, a post-natal program to support new families, the introduction of benefits for counselling services as well as the upcoming launch of a new program to support expectant parents.”