A look behind closed doors reveals how many are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living and other haunting pressures
A nationwide door knock project evaluated by researchers at The University of Western Australia has revealed the true extent of the country’s mental health crisis, with almost half of the respondents reporting being in moderate to high distress.
More than 37,000 homes were doorknocked around the country, including 3,334 in WA, in what is believed to be the largest mental health study of its kind in the world.
The Assisting Communities through Direct Connection project, run by Community Mental Health Australia and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services, aimed to kickstart conversations about mental health and encourage people to access support services.
Evaluation of the project by UWA’s Centre for Social Impact showed that 49.4% of respondents reported being in moderate to very high distress and 36.7% said they needed more support.
The project’s doorknockers helped connect people with available services and conducted follow-up surveys.
UWA Centre for Social Impact Research Officer Lisette Kaleveld said the evaluation showed Australians wanted to discuss mental health and seek support but too often faced barriers in accessing professional assistance.
“People welcomed the chance to open up and discuss their support needs with a stranger knocking at their front door, often expressing their struggles while also not being aware of all the support options in their communities,” Ms Kaleveld explained.
“Some had tried to reach out before but were stuck in various stages of help-seeking, which can be really complicated for some services.
Ms Kaleveld said the project had shown a clear need for greater access to mental health support and services across the nation. “Prohibitive costs, shame, the preference to self-manage and not knowing what supports are available were the most common barriers to people accessing support,” Ms Kaleveld concluded.