Prevention over pills for mental health

MORE Australians are now prescribed medication for mental illness since records began in 2012, costing the nation $566 million in subsidised prescriptions.

The report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found 4.4 million people were prescribed mental health medication in the year to June 2020.

Dietitians Australia is now calling on the government to help support the nation’s mental health through preventive measures such as dietary intervention.

“Current available evidence points strongly to the cost effectiveness of dietary interventions for prevention, treatment and management of mental illnesses,” Dietitians Australia CEO, Robert Hunt, said.

“Yet the government still doesn’t recognise the important role that food and nutrition has on mental health and wellbeing.”

The AIHW report revealed 29.4 million antidepressants were prescribed in the year – an overwhelming representation of overall mental health related prescriptions at 72 per cent.

Accredited Practising Dietitian, Dr Rachelle Opie explains how both mental illness and associated physical illnesses can be cost-effectively prevented or treated through dietary support.

“Evidence from randomised control trials around the world have proven dietary interventions significantly reduce symptoms of mental illness, including depression,” Dr Opie said.

“In one study, remission of depression was achieved for 32 per cent of individuals who received a 12-week dietary intervention.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding how mental and physical illnesses are intrinsically linked to food and nutrition.”