Health round-up: Booze prices, pharmaceuticals use and mental health affecting school results

Richard Laycock 21 December 2017

Happy young people with cocktails at pub.

A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.

Booze prices on the way up

Bad news boozehounds, the Department of Health has outlined a draft framework to minimise alcohol-related harm in Australia and one of the measures is pricing and taxation reforms.

Specifically, this would see the introduction of a minimum floor price for alcohol, which would be a volumetric tax. This means that products will be taxed based on how much alcohol they contain.

It is hoped that the tax revenue from these measures will be directed towards preventative health activities (focusing on alcohol-related harm) and substance treatment services.

More Aussies misusing pharmaceuticals

More Aussies are using pharmaceuticals for non-medical purposes, according to a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The study found that these drugs are also responsible for more deaths than illegal drugs.

"Over the past decade, there has been a substantial rise in the number of deaths involving a prescription drug, with drug-induced deaths more likely to be due to prescription drugs than illegal drugs," said AIHW spokesperson Matthew James in a statement.

Surprisingly, the study found that non-medical usage was almost twice as likely for those in remote/very remote areas than those living in major cities.

Mental health issues can lead to poorer school results

Australian students with mental health disorders are more likely to miss school and have poorer academic outcomes, according to a survey conducted at the University of Western Australia's Telethon Kids Institute by Dr David Lawrence.

The survey analysed educational outcomes from Young Minds Matter: the Second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

The study found that one in seven were affected by mental health disorders in the last 12 months and that those students tested lower on average than students without mental health disorders across the board.

Additionally, students with mental health issues were more than twice as likely to be absent from school. In Years 7-12, students without a mental health disorder missed on average 11 days per year versus 24 days per year for those with a mental disorder.

“There’s a need to improve the effectiveness of interventions to reduce the prevalence of mental disorders in children experiencing socio-economic disadvantage and to improve the effectiveness of programs to help students," Dr Lawrence said in a statement.

Australian counselling services for people suffering from mental illness/depression

  • Lifeline - Lifeline.org.au - Phone: 13 11 14
  • BeyondBlue - BeyondBlue.org.au - Phone: 1300 224 636

What else is happening?

The NSW Department of Health is advising people to wear insect repellent these coming holidays. It's feared that wet weather could lead to a spike in mosquito-borne diseases.

“Both mosquitoes and ticks thrive in wet, warm conditions, with mozzies breeding in stagnant pools, while ticks live in moist, bushy areas,” director of environmental health at NSW Health Dr Scalley said in a statement.

Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.

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