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4326.0 - Mental Health and Wellbeing: Profile of Adults, Australia, 1997  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/03/1998   
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MEDIA RELEASE

March 12, 1998
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
26/1998

Young adults most at risk of mental disorder - ABS survey

Almost one in five (18 per cent) Australian adults had a mental disorder at some time during the 12 month period from mid 1996 to mid 1997. Young adults aged 18-24 years had the highest prevalence of mental disorder (27 per cent), declining steadily to 6 per cent of those aged 65 years and over, according to an Australian Bureau of Statistics report launched today by the Federal Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge.

The report presents selected data from the 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of Adults, a project funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services as part of the National Mental Health Strategy. It provides the first comprehensive picture of the mental wellbeing of Australian adults aged 18 years or more.

Some highlights include:
  • Women were more likely than men to have experienced anxiety disorders (12 per cent compared with 7 per cent). The highest rate of anxiety disorders (16 per cent) was observed among women aged 45-54 years. For men, the prevalence of anxiety disorders varied little with age.
  • Young women were particularly prone to affective (mood) disorders with 11 per cent of those aged 18-24 being affected. This was more than three times the rate for men of this age. For women, the prevalence of affective disorders generally declined with age. For men, rates increased in the middle years before declining after age 55.
  • Men were more than twice as likely as women to have substance use disorders (11 per cent compared with 4 per cent). Young men were particularly prone to substance use disorders, with 22 per cent of those aged 18-24 being affected. Alcohol use disorders were about three times as common as drug use disorders
  • When considering prevalence rates among people in different circumstances, such as living arrangements or employment characteristics, rates have been adjusted for age.
  • Those who were separated or divorced had a high rate of anxiety disorders (18 per cent) and affective disorders (12 per cent). Those who had never been married had the highest rate of substance use disorders (14 per cent). Unemployed people had a high rate of substance use disorders (19 per cent of men and 11 per cent of women). Unemployed women also had a high rate of anxiety disorders (20 per cent).

Details are in Mental Health and Wellbeing: Profile of Adults, Australia 1997 (cat. no. 4326.0), available from ABS bookshops. Main features are available from this site.

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