Credit: Nashville Scene

Mental health has been called to be put highest priority in the national health and political agenda, by one of Australia's largest churches, Wesley Mission, following the findings of recent research stating 77 per cent of people in NSW have either experienced mental illness or knew someone who had.

The Wesley report titled Keeping minds well: Mental health is everybody's business found about 53 per cent of the population in NSW will personally experience mental illness during their lives and the condition remains undiagnosed for about one third of young people.

Rev. Dr Keith Garner, CEO of Wesley Mission said, The Wesley Report shows that mental health is a wide reaching issue in our community.

According to the ABS research 2007-08, about 800,000 people across the country, have been officially diagnosed as suffering from depression in any given year, said Dr Garner.

In Australia, suicide associated with mental illness is the sixth highest form of mortality and this fact may surprise some people, he said.

The proportions of Australians who die from mental health problems is also likely to be higher as a significant proportion of suicides are officially recorded as accidental death, Dr Garner said.

The help of the government is called for as the mental health issue is far more pervasive than ever, based on the latest survey of 2012 people earliar this year.

Dr Garner says eight times as many people suffer from depression as those suffering from heart disease or cancer, yet mental health funding, for both private and public, is far lower than for other illnesses.