Mental Health in Adult Australian Population


In 2007, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducted the second National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being. The survey involved approximately 8,800 people aged over 16 years and living in private dwellings in all states and territories of Australia.

  • Almost one in five Australians surveyed had experienced symptoms of a mental disorder during the 12 month period before the survey.
  • Anxiety disorders were most common – 14.4%, followed by affective disorders - 6.2% (of which depression is 4.1%), and substance use disorders – 5.1% (of which 4.3% is alcohol related).
  • The percentage of people meeting the criteria for diagnosis of a mental illness was highest in younger people, with the prevalence decreasing with age. Twenty-six per cent of 18-24 year olds had experienced a mental disorder, while only 5.9% of people aged 65 years and over had experienced a mental disorder.
  • People unemployed or not in the paid workforce had the highest rates of mental disorder, a prevalence rate of 26% for unemployed men and 34% for unemployed women.
  • Those with a mental disorder averaged three days out of role (i.e. unable to undertake normal activity because of health problems) over a four week period. This compared with one day out of role for people with no physical or mental condition.

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