Mental illness no cause for shame

MENTAL illness is the leading reason for the granting of the disability support pension, ahead of physical injuries and impairments.

According to the latest government statistics, 26,247 people with mental health problems were granted the DSP in 2010-11, compared to 24,707 in 2009-10, making it the fastest growing category under the disability umbrella.

Southern Downs headspace manager Mark Goddard said, specifically dealing with early intervention, meant he was able to monitor the rate in which mental illness strikes.

"We have noticed about a 10% growth (in clients) year on year since we started up five years ago," Mr Goddard said.

He said people were now more willing to come forward and admit they needed help. "I think it's a shift in the destigmatisation of help-seeking behaviour," Mr Goddard said.

"People are feeling more comfortable to seek help and I think that's a positive sign."

Across the country, 824,082 people are on the DSP, at a cost of almost $15 billion this financial year, with 254,672 of them on it for mental health reasons; that's almost one-third.

The government figures revealed while grants for psychological problems were on the rise, other disabilities were doing the opposite.

Muscular and skeletal problems, the top category in 2009-10, dropped to second place with 775 grants.

Grants for intellectual impairments and learning difficulties also saw a decrease in the wake of government reforms to tighten the scheme.