As Mental Health Week shines a light on mental health and wellbeing, new research reveals that a large number of Australians are actively choosing to ignore a common health condition that is known to cause or exacerbate mental health issues.
Hearing loss is a common condition suffered by one in six Australians and, when untreated, has been proven to cause social isolation for sufferers and markedly raise the risk of depression in men (1).
The research, conducted by hearing service provider National Hearing Care (NHC), shows that while close to 9 in 10 Australians (88 per cent) understand that hearing impairment can seriously impact someone’s mental health, the treatment of hearing conditions is still a low priority for many adults.
In fact, the research shows that Aussies are seven times more likely to rank mental health as their biggest concern over hearing loss – despite the known correlation between the two conditions. For women, hearing loss ranked last of the six listed common health issues, with mental health at number one.
The effect is that Australians are complacent about their hearing health, with nearly half (46 per cent) of people with hearing loss difficulties admitting they’ve done nothing to seek help. The most common reasons for avoidance of help are complacency (72 per cent) and feelings of self-consciousness (27 per cent).
NHC Audiologist Patrick Rydon says he has seen first-hand the impact hearing loss has had on his patient’s mental health.
“Hearing loss causes a disconnect between the sufferer and their lives. They’re just unable to participate fully in society, which we know is a key indicator for mental health issues,” said Rydon.
“Often the people I see for an initial consultation have become disconnected with their family, friends and loved ones – you can see it in their body language and hear it in their stories.
“The shame is that hearing loss can be easily diagnosed. All it takes is a 15 minute test that determines whether you display the common symptoms of hearing loss.”
NHC is calling for all Australians who may be experiencing signs of hearing loss to come into one of their clinics for a free hearing test. Visit http://www.nhc.com.au for more information.
Hearing loss and mental health – the statistics:
1 Research from Minister Wyatt, World Hearing Day, March 2018:
• 2 in 5 (43 per cent) Aussies with hearing difficulties admitted their difficulties impacted their mental health
• Feelings of anxiety (23 per cent), loss of self-confidence (20 per cent) and isolation (18 per cent) are regularly experienced by those with hearing difficulties
• 90 per cent of Australians with hearing loss stated there was at least one positive impact since treating their hearing difficulties.
ABOUT NATIONAL HEARING CARE:
National Hearing Care (NHC) is the largest independent hearing services provider in Australia operating across more than 270 sites. They employ approximately 300 highly trained and qualified audiologists and audiometrists (hearing care professionals) who work tirelessly to deliver positive clinical outcomes. NHC is owned by one of the largest independent hearing services providers globally, Amplifon SpA, operating in 22 countries and five continents.