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Image of boy speaking up using a megaphone to illustrate voicing a strong opinion.

Image of boy speaking up using a megaphone to illustrate voicing a strong opinion.
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5 ways to make your opinion count when it comes to health

Blog post | 04 Jul 2018

Most people have something to say when it comes to health. From conversations at barbecues to chats with co-workers to social media, people always find ways to share their views about health, wellbeing and medicine (and more).

Sometimes it’s useful; sometimes it’s simply about having a vent. But there are also ways you can voice your opinions, make them count, and bring real change.

Here are 5 ways to have your say about health.

Change the health system 

Instead of tapping your innermost thoughts on hospitals, doctors or medical bills into Twitter, you can now direct your ideas to Australia’s Health Panel. Launched recently by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF), the panel is a “national platform for people to register their views on health issues that are touching their lives”, according to its website. 

The CHF, a not-for-profit organisation that represents health consumers and aims to improve Australia’s health system, is hoping to get at least 1,000 members of the public to join its panel this year. You can register your interest here

Youth matters

Last year, a record 24,000 people participated in the annual Mission Australia Youth Survey, which found mental health, drugs and alcohol to be the biggest issues affecting young Australians.

The proportion of those surveyed who said mental health was of ‘national concern’ rose from 15% in 2015 to 33.7% in 2017, and many respondents said mental health was a barrier to achieving their goals at school or work. 

If you’re aged 15 to 19 and have something to say about any issues that impact your world, you still have until July 31 to complete the online survey here

Your thoughts on mental health

What do you know about mental health conditions? What do you think about them? What do you think about the people who have them? The Royal Flying Doctor Service, working with Australian Catholic University, is currently polling the public on how much they know about mental health and the mental health services available.

You can complete the Mental Health Literacy Survey here (it takes just 20 minutes). 

One in 5 people will have a mental health condition in their lifetime, but many people don’t know how (or are reluctant) to get the help they need. This survey is designed to find out whether it’s because Australians don’t know how to recognise the symptoms, or whether they’re unwilling or unable to access mental health services. The aim is to help improve outcomes for people with mental health conditions.

Talk to your doctor  

One of the most effective ways to take charge of your own health, and that of your family, is simply to talk to your doctor. Speak up and ask questions. And staying with one GP — and the same specialists — whom you trust, could offer significant benefits. 

Research published in June in the journal BMJ Open found that ‘continuity of care’ (seeing the same health professionals over time) may be linked to lower mortality. 

If you don’t have a GP whom you see regularly and feel comfortable with, ask relatives, friends or people in your community if they can recommend one. You can also look for a health professional near you, including those who bulk bill, using the healthdirect Service Finder.

How to make a complaint

Everyone has a right to safe, quality healthcare in Australia. If you have a serious complaint about a hospital, medical centre, doctor, nurse or any other health service provider, you can approach them directly to discuss your concerns. 

If you aren't able to resolve your complaint, or don’t feel comfortable approaching the service provider, you can contact the health complaints commissioner in your state or territory.

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