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Government Federal, Medical Health Aged Care

Mental health experts urge governments to act on prevention

Public Health Association of Australia and Beyond Blue 3 mins read

Media release

11 March 2024

Mental and public health experts will gather in Melbourne tomorrow, Tuesday 12 March, to discuss the growing number of young Australians experiencing mental illness, and encourage governments to tailor their investments in programs which help protect and promote mental wellbeing.  

The Public Health Association of Australia’s inaugural Preventive Mental Health Symposium, hosted in partnership with Beyond Blue, is the first of its kind to bring together mental health and public health experts with a specific focus on preventing mental health conditions.

The National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that of Australians aged 16-85 from 2020-2022, an estimated 8.5 million people, or 43% of the population, had experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life. Of these, 39% of young adults (aged 16-24) had experienced a 12-month mental disorder; up from 26% in 2007.

Dr Stephen Carbone, Symposium Co-organiser and Co-convenor of the Association’s Mental Health Special Interest Group, says action is urgent.  

“The prevalence of mental health conditions is increasing across the community but particularly among young people, despite continual and growing government investment in mental healthcare services and support,” says Dr Carbone, who is also Prevention United CEO.

“Today, most mental health policy and funding is aimed at treating people once they become unwell. There is insufficient emphasis on preventive mental health. Mental health conditions are not inevitable, and some common disorders can be prevented. We must do more to stop mental illness from occurring in the first place.

“Experts will share their latest research about all of the potential causes of deteriorating mental health among Australians from child maltreatment and changes in parenting through to physical activity, diet, social media, bullying and COVID-19, and even climate change.”

Beyond Blue’s Chief Engagement Officer Greg Jennings says it’s time for Australia to change its approach.

"If we want to make a genuine difference and stem the tide in the rising prevalence of mental health issues in this country, we need to shift our attention upstream, to address the causes of mental health conditions.

“Our current system is crisis driven, but as mental health rates continue to rise, the time has come to consider a preventive approach to mental health. We look forward to working with the sector to drive this necessary change to improve mental wellbeing of everyone in Australia.

“Beyond Blue is pleased to partner in this landmark event. Preventive mental health is perfectly aligned with our role in improving mental health and making it easier for people to feel better earlier, get well, and stay well.”

Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin, the Association’s CEO, says that symposium should help inform the Australian Government’s National Preventive Health Strategy.

“This prevention strategy includes a focus on promoting and protecting mental health, but it doesn’t articulate how this will be implemented.

“The public health and mental health communities will be key in advising Government on how the mental health burden can be reduced through prevention.

“If we don’t get this right, the results will echo for generations.”  -ends-


Speakers are available for interview via:



Notes to Editors

The Public Health Association of Australia, in partnership with Beyond Blue, present the Preventive Mental Health Symposium to be held on Tuesday 12 March 2024 at the Pullman Albert Park, Melbourne.

The symposium will be held as a hybrid event which will include in-person and online attendance. The symposium will include a mix of keynote speakers and panel discussions.

Media are invited to apply for a media pass by emailing



About the Public Health Association of Australia
We’re Australia's peak body for public health and advocate for the health and wellbeing of everyone. We strive to help prevent, rather than cure, illness and disease. Our campaigns and activities span numerous public health issues from environmental health, immunisation and pandemic control, through to tobacco, gambling, physical activity, junk food marketing, preventive mental health, health education and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Our 2,000+ individual members represent over 40 professional groups interested in the promotion of public health. We also have branches in every State and Territory.

Learn more at  


About Beyond Blue

For more than 20 years, people in Australia have placed their trust in Beyond Blue as a reliable source of mental health information, support, and hope.


We are one of Australia’s most well-known, trusted, and visited mental health organisation. We never take this for granted. With it comes a deep responsibility to listen, to understand people’s needs and aspirations, and to ensure that they are at the heart of everything we do. Learn more at

Contact details:

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