4364.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2012  First Issue
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Contents >> General health >> Psychological distress


Good mental health is fundamental to the wellbeing of individuals, their families and the population as a whole. One indication of the mental health and wellbeing of a population is provided by measuring levels of psychological distress using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). The K10 questionnaire was developed to yield a global measure of psychosocial distress, based on questions about people’s level of nervousness, agitation, psychological fatigue and depression in the past four weeks [1].

In 2011-12, 70.1% of Australians (or 11.9 million people) aged 18 years and over experienced a low level of psychological distress according to the K10. Around one in ten adults (10.8%, or 1.8 million people) experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, down from 12.0% in 2007-08 and 12.6% in 2001.

Proportionally more females than males experienced high or very high psychological distress in 2011-12 (12.7% and 8.8% respectively), while in general, high and very high levels of psychological distress decreased slightly with age.

For more information on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale see Psychological distress in the Glossary.

Graph Image for Level of psychological distress(a), 2011-12

Footnote(s): (a): Persons aged 18 years and over

Source(s): Australian Health Survey: First Results


[1] Coombs, T. (2005) ‘Australian Mental Health Outcomes and Classification Network; Kessler -10 Training Manual’, NSW Institute of Psychiatry.

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