The rise of brain disorders in Australia will soon cost the nation’s economy more than heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease combined, a ground-breaking new study has revealed.
A white paper, titled Review of the burden of disease for neurological, mental health and substance use disorders in Australia, commissioned by clinical researchers Mindgardens Neuroscience Network, set out to pinpoint the prevalence and economic costs of brain disorders and identify improved healthcare strategies.
It found the burden of all brain disorders in Australia in 2017, including neurological, mental health and substance abuse disorders, accounted for 20.5% of disability adjusted life years (DALY), which measures the number of years lost due to premature death, almost double the global figure of 11.1%.
The figure has increased by 13.5% since 2010, with brain disorders now collectively costing the Australian economy more than $74 million per year.
The economic impact of brain disorders will inevitably outstrip heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease combined, according to the report.
In 2017, mental health disorders accounted for the highest burden of disease (46%), followed by neurological disorders (37%) and substance disorders (16%).
Mental health disorders and suicide cost the nation over $33 billion each year, while neurological disorders cost the nation $31 billion and substance use disorders $10 million.
Other findings showed the burden of mental health and substance abuse disorders peaks early in life before age 30 and is maintained through middle age before tapering in later years.
Professor Peter Schofield, interim chief executive of Mindgardens, said the research hub’s investigation into the current burden of disease arising from brain disorders provides a blueprint on how governments can work together to help develop better models of care.
This includes new and improved interventions such as workplace interventions, assertive support after a suicide attempt and dementia support services.
“With this knowledge, our focus, actions and solutions can be targeted to better understanding, treatment, cure and prevention of these great societal challenges,” Professor Schofield said.