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Mental Health and Drug Abuse

The manifestation of mental health and drug abuse has surfaced as an emergent social apprehension in contemporary Australia. Research studies have inferred a significant relationship between psychological maladies and substance dependence, whereby those with mental conditions display higher susceptibility towards drug addiction and vice versa (Saha et al., 2007; Kessler et al., 2011). One theory suggested is the concept of self-medication. As per Khantzian’s (1985) suggestion, people who experience mental health issues may employ drug usage as a way to heal themselves and alleviate their symptoms. Those afflicted by depression might use alcohol consumption as an escape plan for mitigating distressing feelings. At the same time, individuals with anxiety might find solace in benzodiazepines which can help regulate fear and panic-related behaviours or thoughts. This hypothesis garners further support from research studies demonstrating how those affected with psychological disorders have more significant tendencies towards substance abuse compared to healthy counterparts (Saha et al., 2007; Kessler et al., 2011).

Furthermore, it is feasible that persons detected with psychological infirmities turn to a substance used to cope with strains related to arduous life circumstances. The hypothesis regarding stress management has been identified and recorded in past scrutinies conducted by Wills et al.(1994). Instances of injury or maltreatment might prompt individuals into seeking relief through drug use as an outlet for managing the mental distress arising from such episodes. This supposition mentioned earlier obtains validation based on empirical research establishing an affirmative correlation linking psychopathology and probabilities of encountering stressful events compared to non-afflicted counterparts (Kessler et al., 2011). It is important to note that while self-medication and stress-coping theories can explain the drug abuse of some people with mental health issues, it does not apply universally (Khantzian, 1985; Wills et al., 1994). Genetics, social surroundings, and drug availability are several factors that could affect the causes of substance dependence among individuals with psychological disorders.

The second theory behind the connection between mental health and drug abuse in Australia is the common cause hypothesis. This notion suggests a shared origin exists, which may explain why substance abuse and mental illnesses occur together (Kendler et al., 2012). Genetic variables could contribute to the beginning of both disorders – those about one’s well-being and addiction issues. Furthermore, environmental factors like early childhood crises or having family members who struggle with chemical dependence might also play an essential part in causing these related problems involving psychological well-being disturbances and narcotic use disorder. As Kendler et al. (2012) reported, scientific proof indicates that people with a familial inclination towards drug addiction are more prone to acquiring coexisting mental health conditions and substance dependence.

Furthermore, former literary works have proven the existence of an association between inherited attributes and the occurrence of drug dependency and psychological disorders (Kendler et al., 2012; Vink et al., 2014). Through their research study, Kendler’s team found that around half of the significant depression plus narcotics reliance was primarily attributable to hereditary factors. A common cause hypothesis is presented to account for the known association between drug abuse and mental health in some people. It is essential, however, to recognize that not all individuals who suffer from psychiatric disorders display lineage with substance addiction or exhibit genetic markers linked to this behaviour – as determined by research conducted by Kendler et al. (2012) and Vink et al. (2014). Various other factors, such as societal surroundings, stressors, and traumatic events, may influence the development of substance abuse among those with psychological illnesses. However, these are just examples of many possible reasons.

The issue of mental health and drug addiction carries immense social importance within the borders of Australia, necessitating that various governments undertake measures to address these challenges. The primary responsibility for developing policies intended to tackle problems about drug abuse and mental health problems falls under state and territorial administrations, whereas the federal government shoulders a merely supportive role in this context. The Australian Constitution elucidates the distribution of roles between Commonwealth and state entities. The enumeration in the Constitution bestows precise capabilities on the former government, such as jurisdiction over defence, foreign affairs and tax laws. Contrariwise, it is incumbent upon states to regulate education, healthcare and social welfare domains. Albeit mental health issues or substance abuse do not receive explicit mention within this Constitutional document; however their oversight remains subject to dominion by regional governments respectively at a territorial level too.

In Australia, the primary responsibility of mental health policy management rests with state and territory governments. The legislative framework provided by each region’s act concerning mental health plays a vital role in enabling the operation of services to those affected. Publicly available facilities offering care for individuals grappling with their psychological well-being – from community-based initiatives to specialized treatments and inpatient therapy- falls under regional governance authorities’ purview. Funding for such measures is met through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that avail themselves via financial contributions granted by relevant states or territories on behalf of individuals requiring support regarding their psychological afflictions alongside families impacted concurrently.

The Commonwealth government has implemented the National Mental Health Strategy to aid states and territories in optimizing mental health outcomes. This approach is a collaborative initiative between the Commonwealth, state, and territory administrations to advance all Australians’ psychological welfare and overall wellness. The strategy accentuates particular target populations such as minors/adolescents, Indigenous Australians, and individuals who dwell in remote areas geographically removed from others.

Australia’s state and territory governments comparably manage drug abuse policies. The Drug and alcohol act governs each jurisdiction, serving as legal grounds for such services. The provision of public support against substance use disorder falls under the domain of governing bodies, extending itself to encompass treatment options and rehabilitation efforts alongside measures directed towards harm reduction strategies. Furthermore, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are sustained through state or territorial administrations funding individuals who require assistance with necessary resources relating to their battle with substances or helping families affected by this issue. The administration of the Commonwealth has enacted The National Drug Strategy, which presents aid to numerous provinces and jurisdictions in elevating results related to drugs and alcohol. In cooperation with one another, this interdependent plan strives towards mitigating unfavourable influences caused by substances such as tobacco or other illegal drugs within Australia via united efforts undertaken by all levels of government. This strategic approach further prioritizes certain sets for implementation, catering primarily but not exclusively limited to Indigenous Australians, young individuals and those dwelling in distant rural territories.

In addition to the National Mental Health Strategy and the National Drug Strategy, other actions taken by the Commonwealth government in Australia aim to enhance substance abuse and mental health policies. For example, monetary resources go towards examining matters concerning drug misuse and psychological wellness- a responsibility shared by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Financial policies back projects geared towards fostering good mindsets to combat drug addiction. It can be done through implementation initiatives initiated under Primary Healthcare Networks scheme structures.

Across Australia, the government has implemented various policy measures to combat mental health and substance abuse concerns. Within current discussions, one particularly prominent response is the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan – an initiative deployed at a national level with twin foci: preventing suicides while also addressing underlying issues concerning matters surrounding individual psychological well-being more generally within Australia’s borders. In November 2020, the Australian government presented the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan as a critical piece in its COVID-19 economic recovery strategy. Their primary goal is to support the psychological welfare of Australians while also working towards diminishing overall suicide rates. This program will span over ten years with multi-billion dollar investments and aims to involve local governments, specialists within mental health fields, and the general public’s combined efforts to achieve successful implementation. The plan for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention consists of various measures designed to augment mental health outcomes while preventing potential suicide attempts. Among the most significant objectives this initiative sets is an intensified improvement in the availability of mental healthcare services, mainly aimed towards those deemed more vulnerable than others. To fulfil such aims, the government has made a solemn promise to bestow $248.6 million specifically into expanding their digital Head to Health platform, which provides all Australians with complete access to online counselling sessions as well as peer support facilities that are crucially essential resources when navigating through instances pertaining psychological well-being issues. Improving the psychological welfare and health of children and adolescents is a crucial responsibility assumed by the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. The Australian government has designated $299.2 million to extend support for mental wellness among young individuals in Australia, comprising funding provisions directed towards school-based psychiatric programs and specialized services rendered toward troubled youngsters with complex dilemmas concerning their cognitive state. Incorporating measures to tackle substance misuse is critical to the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. National Alcohol Strategy, aimed at mitigating negative impacts associated with excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, is among these measures. The strategy development happens in collaboration with multiple states and territories; it primarily seeks to mitigate alcohol-related harm occurrences such as injury, disease or violence caused by high drinking levels.

The blueprint for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan aims to extend targeted support to persons in a quandary. The fiscal authorities have apportioned funds worth $80 million towards augmenting the potential of medical emergency departments and community-based mental health services so that prompt aid can be provided when required by people undergoing crises due to their mental state. These steps include assistance through enhanced triage facilities exclusively intended for addressing issues related to psychology, backing hospitals’ exigency department provisions, and extending crisis support mechanisms to provide succour wherever needed. The Plan for Mental Health and Prevention of Suicide amalgamates approaches that strive to amplify the adroitness and dexterity of the labour force in terms of discharging mental health services. The government has initiated a new stratagem dubbed “Mental Health Workforce Strategy,” with an allocation pledge worth $152 million. This initiative primarily aims at elevating quality and quantity regarding mental health care delivery through augmenting mind-care professionals’ numbers. Numerous measures are envisaged under this approach, mainly in introducing educational programs, courses training sessions, and tightly into employment retention drives encompassed within recruitment initiatives to strengthen workforce augmentation efforts holistically.


Mental health and substance abuse have become a significant focus of attention in contemporary Australia. There are two schools of thought regarding the correlation between drug addiction and psychological disorders – the self-medication hypothesis and the common cause hypothesis. While both perspectives hold merit when examining drug-related issues among those with pre-existing psychiatric conditions, it is essential to note that genetic predispositions, societal influences, along with easy access to drugs also play an integral role in contributing towards such illnesses. One can declare that the onus for developing policies concerned with mental health and drug abuse in Australia rests mainly upon state and territory administrations. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth government plays an essential role by supporting these initiatives significantly. The National Mental Health Strategy and the National Drug Strategy represent cooperative ventures between different levels of authority to augment overall outcomes related to substance abuse and mental health care within Australia. While substantial work remains yet to be done toward addressing multifaceted social concerns, both strategies constitute significant advancements towards successfully resolving them within Australian society. The Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan is a noteworthy policy that addresses mental health and substance abuse issues in Australia. It represents an important step towards addressing these pressing societal concerns. The suggested strategy aims at tackling intricate social matters regarding mental well-being and suicide prevention by enacting various measures such as widening the reach of psychiatric services, providing support to young Australians, and confronting drug misuse problems while also offering specialized aid for those who deal with crucial situations; thereby enhancing their proficiency levels whilst further developing the potential within the workforce dealing with psychology-related challenges. Although still new on stage, so to speak, it is commendable how the Australian government is allocating funds towards this endeavour. It aims to boost positive outcomes underpinning good psychological status and mitigate any negative impact from drug or alcohol-related addiction across Australia.


Australian Government Department of Health. (2022). National Mental Health Strategy. Retrieved from

Australian Government Department of Health. (2022). National Drug Strategy. Retrieved from


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