Balance, Proportion and Harmony Today?

We are being pulled in too many directions at once. To guard against mental health issues and maintain physical health, we need to achieve a positive work life balancePeople across the western world are suffering from increasing stress and alienation due to the pressures and pace of modern life.

They frequently report feeling unable to keep up with all the demands placed upon them by family, work and other commitments. The current global financial uncertainty and associated unemployment plus job and housing insecurity are also contributing greatly to the stress.

People seem to be working harder, having less down time, but are still unable to make ends meet or improve their situation, except by working harder. Many people even report the feeling that “time seems to be speeding up”.

Health and Wellbeing – Now and Projected

According to the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing:

  • Mental illness is common in Australia with almost half of all Australians experiencing a mental disorder at some stage in their lives, and many experiencing more than one mental illness at one time.
  • About 14 % of Australians will be affected by anxiety disorders at some point in their life.
  • About 20% of people will be affected by depression and 6% will experience a major depressive illness.
  • More than 10% of people with a mental illness die by suicide within the first 10 years of diagnosis.

(National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, ABS, 2007)

Major depression accounts for more days lost to illness than almost any other physical or mental disorder.

Depression is increasing - Lonely man on beach

Depression is increasing in modern society

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare reported mental disorders to be the third leading cause of overall disease burden, accounting for 13 per cent of total burden and 27 per cent of total years lost to disability. Mental disorders rank third after heart disease and cancer as the largest causes of illness related burden in Australia. However, they represent the largest cause of disability, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the burden of non-fatal disease. Depression and anxiety account for nearly half of this burden. Depression was the leading single cause of disability.

(The burden of disease and injury in Australia, AIHW, 1999)

 Mental disorders lead to substantial lost productivity in Australia.

Mental disorders are estimated to account for substantial lost productivity in the workplace. In Australia it is estimated that absenteeism due to depression accounts for around six million working days lost each year, at a cost to employers of approximately $1.2 billion. In addition, depression is estimated to reduce workers’ performance by at least 40 per cent. For the Australian workforce as a whole, this equates to around 30 million working days per year with reduced productivity, at a cost to employers of approximately $2.3 billion.

(Work Outcomes Research and Costs-benefit [WORC]
Project 2000, University of Queensland)

 Similar figures are reported elsewhere. “Major depression is the No 1 psychological disorder in the western world. It is growing in all age groups, in virtually every community, and the growth is seen most in the young, especially teens. At the rate of increase, it will be the 2nd most disabling condition in the world by 2020, behind heart disease.”

(, April 12, 2012)