Young Aussies Playing a Dangerous, Mental Health Waiting Game

Alarming numbers of young Australians with mental health issues are putting themselves in serious danger by waiting months on end before seeking help.

Startling new headspace and Orygen research, released on the inaugural headspace day on October 11, shows that 50 per cent of 12 to 25 year olds are waiting six months before reaching out for crucial help.

The research also uncovered that;

  • close to 50 per cent said financial cost was a barrier preventing them from getting treatment;
  • close to 45 per cent said they believed they could not be helped;
  • more than 50 per cent said they were afraid of what others would think.

Professor Patrick McGorry, a founding member of the headspace board, said the evidence around early intervention to combat mental illness in young people was overwhelming.

“That means this period of waiting and worrying has severe and detrimental effects on young people, from social isolation to relationship breakdowns, drug and alcohol abuse, and in the most severe cases, incidents of suicide and self-harm, the effects can be life changing” he said.

headspace day national ambassador, Olympic diving gold medallist Matthew Mitcham has revealed that he tried to battle his mental health issues on his own. The 28-year-old suffered severe bouts of depression and anxiety and has gone through periods of drug and alcohol abuse.

“My way of managing my mental health worries was through self-destructive behaviour,” he said. “Because the shame was so great, I didn’t want anyone to see me as being weak and because of everything I had achieved I didn’t want to seem ungrateful.”

Mitcham eventually sought help through counselling services and private rehabilitation facilities.

headspace youth mental health advocate Rachael Laidler, who’s own experiences have mirrored thousands of other young people across Australia, said it took years before she had the courage to seek help.

“It definitely had a dramatic impact on my life,” she said. “There were years of my life that I completely lost because I didn’t want to get help.”

“I put off seeking help because I didn’t like the idea there was something wrong with me, something more than just growing up,”

The new research has triggered the inaugural headspace day, a national day about ensuring every young person in Australia has access to youth-friendly mental health services, no matter where they live.

Professor McGorry urged all Australians to get behind headspace day because access to youth friendly, mental health services gives young people the best chance for a positive future.

“Access is crucial and help seeking is the first step that every young person must make, and we need to continue to provide effective and easy pathways to make sure this can happen for everyone,” he said.

Every year, a quarter of all young people in this country will experience mental health issues and we want them to know that headspace is here to help.

You can do your bit by supporting the inaugural headspace day. There are a range of ways to get involved and show your support:

  1. Wear – Wear a headspace day “Access all Areas” wristband on the day
  2. Share – Post your support on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #headspaceday
  3. Donate – Make a donation at

Contact: Michael Bennett, Media & Communications Manager: 0413 025 385