Healthcare Psychiatry Issues in Nursing in Australia


Mental disorder is one of the most recognized health issues in Australia (Andrews et al, 1999). This literature review focuses on three peer-reviewed journals to get an insight into this issue. The first journal in the Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing deals with the mental health issues within the general health care system in Australia. The second journal is Rural and Remote Health Journal which explains the mental disorders among Australian youths who live in rural areas. The last journal is called the Mental Health of Australians which explains the mental disorders that are common among Australians. These three journals are important in the nursing practice since they contain relevant information on how to deal with people who have psychiatric disorders.

Issues on Australians diagnosed with Psychiatric disorders

Many people do have access to the highest quality of healthcare because of stigmatization and discrimination in society. In many Australian hospitals, there is negative labeling of the victims. This may be as a result of the victims behaving in a funny manner that is not normal for people who are suffering from other diseases. This results in the fact that a patient is neglected or even abused either physically or psychologically by the public (Mavundla, 2000). In its turn, it calls for professionals such as doctors and nurses to foster positive attitudes towards the public (Brenda and Platania, 2004). All the writers agree with this point, Boyd, Aisbett, Kelly, and Newnhamk (2006) also support it saying that there is social stigmatization among the Australian youths. Gavin, Wayne, Maree, and Scott (2008) also emphasized social stigma as one of the common factors of mental disorders.

When a patient is brought to the hospital, some nurses and physicians do not have the right skills to be able to come up with the diagnoses of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, if a patient is diagnosed with mental illness, there is no evidence that this calls for special care on the individual and it can lead to more illness and physical disability (Brenda and Platania, 2004).

It is the role of nurses to ensure that patients receive the highest quality of healthcare while they are under their watch. To ensure that this goal is achieved, nurses usually offer their professional assistance to patients who need physical, emotional, or psychological assistance (Whiteford, 1998). This can be achieved by providing mental health education as part of the comprehensive nursing education to the nurses. General health personnel should be trained on mental health care skills to know how to deal with people with psychiatric disorders and how to deal with challenging conditions (Brenda and Platania, 2004). Boyd, (2006) support this argument and state that there are no mental health services in the rural area and there are no professionals with quality work.

According to the National Survey of mental health and well-being of adults, it was found that 18% of Australians have mental problems (Mayou and Hawton, 1996). These were in form of anxiety disorders, substance abuse disorders and others with a personality disorder. It was also noted that many of people with mental disorders do not have access to mental health services hence they do not receive any treatment (Brenda and Platania, 2004). Boyd (2006) support this point with the argument that most of the youths face out of anxiety and fear.

Many patients with psychiatric disorders use medical services and not recommended for mental healthcare. This, in many circumstances leads to prolonged illness to the patient. Boyd, (2006) support this point and state that substance use like alcohol is one of the options that individuals use in order to escape the reality of life or for entertainment. However, the excessive use of these substances may affect the mental state of an individual. According to Gavin (2008), this substance use may lead to other physical and psychological illness among high proportion of the Australian population.

Depression, anxiety and substance abuse were the most commonly found disorders amongst Australians (Paluska and Schwenk, 2000). Because nurses usually have longer contact with their patients, they can help in diagnosing problem behaviors and the concurrent mental problems among the patients. Nurses act as a source of encouragement to their patients so that they can have the appropriate self-care such as emphasizing the patients to take part in physical activities to reduce the level of anxiety (Paluska and Schwenk, 2000).

Australia has the highest rate of suicide in the world. The most common psychiatric disorder among many adolescents in Australia is anxiety and suicide (Birleson et al, 2000). Lack of opportunities for social interaction and unemployment were also stated as factors that lead to mental illness (Boyd, 2006). It has also been reported that many people contemplate suicide when they face problems and that anxiety is more to the people who are not employed (Gavin, 2008).

The study conducted on the Australian youths revealed that many people are reluctant to acknowledge the mental problems that they are facing. This is because most of the youths have a culture of self-reliance so even after they have been diagnosed with mental problems, they do not want to involve others in the care and there was a problem with social stigma among the youths (Boyd, 2006). People lack mental disorder problems and tend to take it to themselves and hence they end up having self-medication (Gavin, 2008).

Most of the facilities after the diagnosis lack professionals who can deal with the challenges of mental disorders among the youths. Some of the youths want to be acknowledged of confidentiality and anonymity after the diagnosis (Boyd, 2006). Brenda and Platania (2004) agree with the idea that there are no professionals who are experts in mental health and so the nurses and the doctors should be offered mental health education so that they can have the skills to deal with the patients.

In Australia, people who live in the rural places have barriers and cannot access mental care appropriately. There is also the problem of a lack of professionals who can make follow-ups to the patients because they lack mental health training (Boyd, 2006). The mental health care services are not available in the rural of Australia and due to transport problems; the patients do not attend the mental health care program and medicine as prescribed by the doctors. Mental health services should be provided to the patients even to the rural areas and health systems should be improved.

A national survey that was conducted revealed that the most common mental disorders among Australians are anxiety and substance use. There is the difference with males and females and it shows that males have the likelihood to have more disorders than females. Anxiety affects both the young and the adults in Australia (Gavin et. al, 2008). This point is also supported by Brenda and Platania (2004) that there are more males with anxiety as compared with females.

The feelings of hopelessness and depression can be altered. People should be taught strategies on how to deal with the inevitable challenges of life. The education should start during childhood and adolescence. Adolescents need to be taught the effects of using substances on their health. If information is passed from childhood then there will be no mental disorders during adulthood (Gavin, 2008)

Unemployment has led to mental disorders among Australians. People who are employed have fewer chances of getting mental disorders than the ones who are not in the labor force (Gavin, 2008). People who have mental illness are disadvantaged when it comes to seeking employment and the chances of being involuntarily unemployed can increase the chances of mental illness and lead to low self-esteem. Brenda and Platania (2004) supported the point that when people are not employed, they will have mental disorders and if it happens, one cannot be given a chance to show what you can do in the employment sector.

People who are anxious have anxiety disorder which can be improved by changing the victim’s behavior, thoughts and emotion. Persons who tend to panic usually have the problem of attacks, anxiety and fear. They also have social phobia because they do not want to be the center of attention in public in case they suffer from embarrassment (Gavin, 2008). Having conducive environments and trust in oneself there will be no issues of anxiety. People need to be relaxed.

Substance abuse like alcohol or drugs is a problem among the Australians who are diagnosed with mental problems. They tend to depend on alcohol when they have problems or sometimes to run away from realities of life and this is most common among the young people. Most of them suffer from physical and psychological problems (Gavin, 2008). This review calls for further research on the mental disorders among young people and the causes of the disorders. There is also no information about mental disorders among Australian women.


From the studies that have been conducted, it is evident that the major forms of psychiatric disorders are anxiety, depression, suicide, substance abuse and personality problems. The authors emphasize that there should be mental health education among the nurses so that they can have skills to deal with the patients. Mental health services should be invented and provided everywhere so there should be improved health systems. Professionals should be encouraged to discourage stigmatization on mental disorders.


Andrews, G., Hall, W., Teesson, M. and Henderson, S. (1999). The mental health of Australians. New York: Sage

Birleson, P., Sawyer, M. and Storm, V. (2000). The mental health of young people in Australia: Child and adolescent component of the national Survey – a Commentary. Australasian Psychiatry, 8 (4), 358-362.

Boyd, C.P., Aisbett, D., Francis, K., Kelly, M. and Newnham, K. ( 2006). Issues in Rural Adolescent Mental in Australia. Journal of Rural and Remote Health, 6 (2), 501-510

Brenda, H. and Platania, C. (2005) Mental Health Issues within the general Health Care System: Implications for the Nursing Profession. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 22 (3), 17-31

Gavin, A. Wayne, H., Moree, T. and Scott, H. (2008). The Mental Health of Australians. Journal of Health, 5 (1), 16-24

Mavundla, T.R. (2000). Professional Nursing Perception of Nursing Mentally Ill People in a General Hospital Setting. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 32 (6), 1569-1578.

Mayou, R. and Hawton, K. (1996). Psychiatric disorder in the general hospital. British Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 172-90.

Whiteford, H.A. (1998). Renewing Australia’s mental health strategy. Medical Journal of Australia, 169 (8), 432-4.