New research reveals mental health and chronic illness concerns


One in ten Australians rate their quality of life as poor with mental health and developing chronic illnesses key concerns, new research by health insurer Bupa reveals.

The Bupa Pulse Check launched today, which looks at Australians’ attitudes towards their health and wellbeing, found two in three Australians were worried about developing a chronic illness with back pain, arthritis, cancer and mental health conditions listed as the overall top concerns. 

The research, which surveyed 2000 Australians was conducted by Quantum Market Research, and also examined the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. It found half of Australians aged under 50 admitted delaying health appointments due to COVID-19, while 50 per cent also revealed their concerns about future pandemics. 

Other key findings from the research include: 

• Two in three aged 18-39 sought mental health assistance over the last 12 months, with one in four accessing three or more services; 

• More Australians (73%) use a streaming service rather than spend time outdoors and in nature (66%); 

• Two in five feel costs are the main barrier to maintaining health and wellbeing, while 35 per cent say they lack motivation. 

• One in five rate their financial situation as poor, with finances found to be one of the main drivers impacting people’s perceptions of their overall quality of life and metal health; 

• Many feel the environment is having a negative impact on their mental and physical health, with extreme weather events the main concern. The wide-ranging research also found Australians were changing their habits to live healthier lives including: 

• Almost two in five adults (38%) say they are reducing their alcohol consumption; 

• Active transport such as walking, running and cycling are the top ways Australians are incorporating exercise into their regular life; 

• Having a routine is key for one in three to successfully manage their health and wellbeing, while more than 50 per cent take vitamins or supplements; 

• The pandemic has encouraged more than half of Australians to prioritise their health and wellbeing; 

• One in three adults (32%) monitor their health and fitness using an app or wearable device.

Bupa Health Insurance Managing Director Chris Carroll said the research showed how Australians continued to prioritise their health and wellbeing needs since the pandemic.
“The pandemic caused a shift in the way we approach life and while it’s positive to see some healthy behaviours emerge, like being more active and reducing alcohol intake, there are still lingering concerns about Australians’ long-term wellbeing and approach to managing chronic health issues,” Mr Carroll said. 

“With many of those surveyed citing financial pressures as one of the barriers to healthier lifestyles, we continue to work hard to ensure customers can get maximum value from their policies and have advocated for changes that would allow private health providers to fund certain wellness and lifestyle products like gym memberships, fitness wearables and accessing care in the community.

Chris Carroll, Bupa Health Insurance Managing Director

We know costs of living challenges continue to impact Australians, and we are supporting our members where we can, including announcing $875 million in customer support since the pandemic started.

Chris Carroll, Bupa Health Insurance Managing Director

Mr Carroll said the findings indicated the importance of keeping mental health discussions going and ensuring that we all check in on our friends and families. 

“It is encouraging to see two in three young Australians seeking mental health support in the last 12 months, and with greater mental health awareness many have taken important steps to see a doctor, practice mindfulness, and most importantly felt comfortable to reach out to their family and friends for support.” 

Quantum Market Research Managing Director Richard Frost said the research showed how some positive health and wellbeing habits formed during lockdowns were now fading away. 

“While there were certain cohorts of the community that had fallen back into old habits, others had taken advantage of the re-opening of health and fitness services since the pandemic,” he said. 

“The pandemic has helped many recognise the importance of prioritising health and wellbeing to improve quality of life and minimise the chance of disease later in life.”

To read Bupa Pulse Check and see other key findings, click here.