Social Problems - Mental Health Issues in Australia

1. Describe how this group experiences social exclusion and inequality.
The group that I have chosen to focus on is people with disabilities, and in particular people with mental health issues.

The National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (ABS, 2007) found that one in five of Australian adults experience mental illness in any one year.   Based on these rates, we can conclude that over 4.2 million Australians had a mental disorder in the past 12 months including conditions such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

The social problems faced by these people with can be varied, however the report (ABS, 2007) states that the major social factors highly associated with having a mental disability are unemployment and homelessness.   These factors are somewhat integrated and are the main cause of social exclusion and barriers to equality for people experiencing a mental disability. They can be excluded from employment which in turn gives them inequitable opportunities to access adequate housing.

When it comes to unemployment levels those who suffer from a mental disability are the most seriously disadvantaged.   Of those suffering from psychotic disorders, the unemployment level is around   75 per cent, and for those suffering anxiety or depressive disorders, the rate is 47 per cent (Richardson, 2010).   It may be very difficult for those suffering mental disabilities to gain employment due to employer’s perceptions of mental illness and ability to undertake work consistently.   There is also a strong link between unemployment and homelessness.

In a report commissioned by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (Lawler & Perkins, 2009) it was found that 60 per cent of homeless people have a mental illness and are reliant on the disability support pension. This group of people often find that they are excluded from affordable and secure accommodation as they cannot find housing within their means.   The report found that most accommodation is far above the...