4727.0.55.001 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13  
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Contents >> General health >> Level of psychological distress


PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS


Good mental health is fundamental to the wellbeing of individuals, their families and the population as a whole.

In the 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (AATSIHS), respondents aged 18 years and over were asked a small set of questions about their feelings, and the frequency of those feelings in the previous four weeks. These questions aim to measure the level of psychological distress experienced by individuals, and are used to compile the modified Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K5) (Glossary) .


RESULTS FROM 2012–13

In 2012–13, almost one-third (30%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over reported having high/very high psychological distress levels in the four weeks before interview.

Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, there were significant differences in the proportions of men and women who had experienced high/very levels of psychological distress (24% compared with 36%). Rates of high/very high psychological distress were significantly higher for women than men in every age group, apart from those aged 45–54 years.

HIGH/VERY HIGH PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS BY SEX AND AGE,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—2012–13
Graph: High or Very High Psychological Distress by Sex

In 2012–13, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in non-remote areas were more likely than those in remote areas to have reported high/very levels of psychological distress (32% compared with 24%). There were statistically significant differences in the non-remote and remote rates for all age groups, except for those aged 25–34 years.

HIGH/VERY HIGH PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS BY REMOTENESS AND AGE,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—2012–13
Graph: High or Very High Psychological Distress by Remoteness

CHANGE OVER TIME

Between 2004–05 and 2012–13, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over with high/very high psychological distress levels increased from 27% to 30%.


HOW DO THESE RATES COMPARE WITH THE RATES FOR NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE?

After adjusting for differences in age structure between the two populations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over were nearly three times as likely as non-Indigenous people to have experienced high/very high levels of psychological distress (rate ratio of 2.7). This pattern was evident for both men and women across all age groups.

Graph Image for Males with high or very high psychological distress, by Indigenous status and age

Source(s): 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey and 2011-12 Australian Health Survey



Graph Image for Females with high or very high psychological distress, by Indigenous status and age

Source(s): 2012-13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey and 2011-12 Australian Health Survey



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