Chronic and complex health conditions are now the predominant health burden for Australians – affecting education and employment, individual and family wellbeing as well as the national costs of health care and the impact of these on the national economy.

Beyond the Fragments: Preventing the Costs and Consequences of Chronic Physical and Mental Diseases highlights the strong link between chronic physical and mental ill health. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show almost 12 per cent of Australians aged between 16 and 85 years – an estimated 1.9 million people – have both a mental disorder and a physical condition.

People with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, have significantly raised rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.

The paper follows the release of the Mitchell Institute report  Targets and Indicators for Chronic Disease Prevention in Australia encompassing both chronic physical and mental ill health. These targets and indicators are to support, guide and track Australian progress in reducing preventable chronic diseases and their impact on the Australian population.

Beyond the Fragments calls for an integrated approach to the prevention, treatment and management of chronic physical and mental conditions.

Integrated care needs to be supported by national health funding arrangements capable of providing ‘packaged’ care services to people with complex care needs. Mitchell Institute has called for the establishment of a national health insurance scheme to enable Australian health services to provide adequate and effective prevention and treatment of chronic health conditions.

In The Case for Change Towards Universal and Sustainable National Health Insurance & Financing for Australia, authors Francesco Paolucci of Murdoch University and Manual Garcia-Goni of the University of Madrid, propose a model of health financing for Australia that would best support efficient and effective health services focused on prevention, treatment and management of chronic diseases.