Unprotected sex, poor dental hygiene and mental health issues are all factors Tasmanians aged between 25 and 34 years are experiencing at higher rates than the national average.
These health issues were highlighted by St.LukesHealth in its Tasmanian Health Report, with data showing healthcare delivery might need to change to address chronic disease.
The report, by KP Health and University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research, was commissioned to better understand the future health status of the state’s Millennial generation.
Launceston GP and St.LukesHealth director Dr Jerome Muir Wilson said health was the “single biggest issue affecting our state”.
“I think one of the issues is that we wait until they become a chronic issue … but that’s why we’ve chosen to look at the younger generation to see what impact we can make that can have life-long lessons for them,” Dr Muir Wilson said.
Preventing future chronic health issues starts with information and education, rather than waiting until there is no choice but go to the doctor, dentist or hospital.
“Schools these days don’t always have as much of a focus on preventative health, like dental and eating well. It was quite startling to think of our cohort that only half of them brush their teeth twice a day,” he said.
“I think we need to start younger and getting into the preventative health space a lot more.”
Dr Muir Wilson said sexual health information was good, but it was not enough, so needed to be reassessed.
“People often make a number of assumptions that younger people are being told about safe sex at school, and that the messages are getting through, but up to a one-third are not practicing safe sex on a regular basis, but with the advent of Tinder and people being more promiscuous, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, despite knowing better, are still rising.”
“When it does get to the crisis point of someone turning up to the emergency department in a mental health crisis we need to make sure that they’re actually dealt with in a really patient-centred way. They’re often in the middle of a road trauma and a person having a heart attack...
“We can use those opportunities when people do access a dentist or a mental health or sexual health service to have a preventative message,” he said.
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