Physical health challenges - The link between physical health and mental health in young people

While the majority of young Australians report good physical and mental health, 1 in 4 aged 12–24 years will experience a diagnosed mental disorder every year (1). The onset of mental illness is accompanied by greater risk of poor physical health outcomes later in life, which can be explained in part by lifestyle factors, social consequences of mental illhealth, and barriers in accessing health care. The life expectancy of people with a serious mental illness is about 13–32 years less than the general population (2). The majority of these deaths are due to the development of physical health conditions that could be prevented. Treatment for mental ill-health is often focused on the presenting symptoms (e.g., low mood) and in the process, monitoring of the person’s physical health might be overlooked. A holistic approach to the wellbeing of young people needs to include considerations of both their physical and mental health.