Madie’s Top 5 Takes On … Healthcare for Young People

Words by Madieson (she/her), 24 WA

I want to start this by saying how grateful I am for the healthcare system in Australia. We are very lucky to have the services and access we have!

Even though Australia has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, there are still areas for improvement, such as supporting the health of young people. As a young person myself who has had her fair share of time dealing with the healthcare system, I can see there are quite a few gaps that still exist and could be improved on that could help the healthcare system support the whole population of Australia and the future populations!

Here are my hot takes on how young people see the healthcare system and experience it!

Pushed to the side.

When I moved away from home to Perth, I hadn’t really sought out medical care. Until one day at work, I got really unwell and was vomiting with a fever. I went to the doctors to figure out what was wrong, and they did a whole lot of blood tests which revealed I had liver function issues, low Vitamin D and low Iron.

I began to fix the Vitamin issue, however the doctor decided to not address the issue with the liver function until I argued to get it sorted, with this revealing I have an underlying autoimmune condition (still unknown to this day – possibly arthritis). Every time I would see the doctor and ask about this, he would disregard my concern about my liver function and pretend as if there was no issue.

When he could not find the solution, he just ignored it and pretended it didn’t exist. This was so frustrating and made me feel as if I was just being dramatic and I needed to get over myself, which it is absolutely not the case!

I think it is important that doctors and healthcare professionals, are adequately trained in supporting young people, and in particular young women. As due to a lack of understanding, women are often receiving inadequate healthcare treatment.

Costly with no support.

When you are a uni/TAFE student or a young person in the first few years of a job, you don’t tend to be sitting too well financially. You may be on a low income or relying on government benefits. This becomes a problem when you cannot afford basic healthcare due to the expense of it.

It becomes especially hard, when they get rid of bulk billing for people who are not pensioners or on a health care card. This means that when I now head to the doctors it can cost me between $80-$130 with a slight reimbursement. Although it doesn’t seem like much, in the scheme of things, it adds up. Especially if you have to regularly see doctors to get script renewals or blood tests.

Though it is not all bad, I am very grateful for our healthcare system, especially when it comes to going to a hospital.

However, it would be great if there could be just a bit more support for young people when accessing doctors or specialist services. This could be in the form of offering bulk billing for script services. As well as offering an alternate payment method for young people for appointments.

How all variants and types of health matter.

When we used to think about health and the healthcare model, there was a particular emphasis on physical health. But as the younger generation approach the healthcare system, we move away from a sole focus on one form of health. We recognise that health can be mental, physical and spiritual. And how these are all interconnected!

I know the days where I struggle the most mentally are the days where I have been stationary, have been in pain or have felt out of control. This talks to the interconnection of physical health and mental health. Before I realised, I was gluten intolerant, I would have so many days where I was in intense pain, I would struggle to get out of bed and would spend a lot of time upset and crying over not knowing what was wrong. But when I connected the dots and got rid of Gluten and no longer had these days, I felt so much better and in control of my life!

I think a move of the medical model focusing on just physical health is well overdue and as we have the younger populations move into the medical field we will *hopefully* see this change!

A focus on our future health.

The focus of our current generation is on our future health. Not on the past, or even our present, but our future. This means when it comes to our health, we are focused on how we can stay healthy for as long as possible. Focusing on preventative strategies rather than a treatment-based model.

As well as focusing on understanding the effects of how things affect us. Which is recognising the affects that external factors such as polluted air and water, lack of access to healthcare services, lack of education around harmful practices, exposure to heavy metal, have on our health. And moving away from an approach where the blame is placed on the individual, but focusing on the affect the environment and external factors have on the individual This approach – although adopted by the younger generations – is not something that has been adopted by all those around us! Meaning we need to advocate for this transition and change to our future health!

We are the biggest advocates for ourselves.

As I have moved through the healthcare system over the last five years or so for many different things, I have learnt that I am the biggest advocate for myself.

Whether this is pushing doctors to explore issues further instead of sweeping them under the rug (because they aren’t significantly impacting my QoL yet, how ridiculous), or exploring alternative medical options such as holistic health or natural methods.

Educating myself on how to prevent the onset of potential symptoms. As there is a chance I may develop arthritis in the future, I need to focus on engaging with regular exercises and foods that reduce inflammation.

These moments when I have taken charge and pushed for my own health and wellbeing have been the real highlights of my healthcare journey! I am proud for myself for not just settling for the doctor’s half-assed approach but learning and pushing myself!

We need to continue to empower young people, to take control of their life and their health and provide them with accurate and reliable resources (not Dr Google), about their health.

 

Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio

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