Australian Bureau of Statistics
4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jan 2012
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2012
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REPORTING ANY 12-MONTH MENTAL DISORDER (a)(b), 16-85 years
REPORTING ANY LIFETIME MENTAL DISORDER (a), 16-85 years
In 2007, females aged 16-85 years had a higher rate of mental health disorders (22%) in the 12 months prior to survey interview than did males (18%). A higher rate of Anxiety disorders among females (with women almost twice as likely as men to report Post-traumatic stress disorder) was the main contributor to the higher overall rate of mental health disorders. Males were more likely to have had a mental disorder at some stage in their lifetime than were females (48% compared to 43%), which was largely due to the higher proportion who had a Substance Use disorder at some stage in their life.
Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which individuals can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and are able to make a contribution to their community. Mental illness, on the other hand, describes a number of diagnosable disorders that can significantly interfere with a person's cognitive, emotional or social abilities.
An individual's ability to relate with their family, friends, workmates and the broader community can be affected by their mental health. It can cause significant distress and disability, and can lead to isolation of, and discrimination against, those affected.
People with a mental health disorder may also not be able to fully participate in the labour force. This has individual impacts in terms of the person's income, social participation and self-esteem, and also has wider economic impacts. The annual cost of mental illness in Australia has been estimated at $20 billion, which includes the cost of loss of productivity and labour force participation. (Endnote 1)
In 2007, almost half (45% or 7.3 million) of Australians aged 16-85 years reported that they would have met the criteria for a diagnosis of a mental disorder at some point in their life. The criteria for a diagnosis of a mental disorder were met if someone had, at some point in their lifetime, experienced at least one of the selected mental disorders (Anxiety, Mood (affective) or Substance Use disorders). One-in-five (3.2 million) Australians had experienced symptoms in the 12 months prior to interview (12-month mental health disorder).
Type of disorder
In 2007, Anxiety disorders, affecting 14% of all people aged 16-85 years, were the most common mental disorders reported in the 12 months prior to interview. Anxiety disorders generally involve feelings of tension, distress or nervousness. Specific anxiety disorders such as Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia and Generalised Anxiety Disorder have some common symptoms, such as a pounding heart, sweating, trembling, shaking and difficulties with breathing. The most common Anxiety disorder for both men and women was Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but women were almost twice as likely as men to experience this disorder. Females were more likely than males to have experienced Anxiety disorders both in the 12 months prior to interview (18% and 11% respectively) and in their lifetime (32% compared to 20% for men).
Affective disorders (also known as Mood disorders), such as Depression, Dysthymia and Bipolar affective disorder, affected 6% of people aged 16-85 years in the 12 months prior to interview. A higher proportion of females reported Affective disorders than males both in the 12 months prior to interview (7% compared to 5%) and in their lifetime (18% compared to 12%).
The harmful use of alcohol and other drugs is an issue that has many negative effects for individuals, their families and friends, and the wider community. Substance Use disorders, involving the harmful use of, or dependency on, alcohol or other drugs, were less prevalent than other types of mental disorders, affecting 5% of people aged 16-85 years in the 12 months prior to interview. Males were more than twice as likely as females to have had a Substance Use disorder both in the 12 months prior to interview (7% of males and 3% of females) and over their lifetime (35% of males and 14% of females).
The prevalence of 12-month mental health disorders in 2007 varied across the age groups, with both males and females experiencing higher rates of disorder in the younger age groups. Adolescence and young adulthood is a critical stage of transition in an individual's physical and mental development. Mental disorders in young people can seriously disrupt their growth and development, eroding their quality of life by affecting their self-confidence, relationships, education and employment. Over three-quarters (76%) of people who experience mental disorder during their lifetime will first develop a disorder before the age of 25 years. (Endnote 2)
In the 12 months prior to interview in 2007, 30% of females aged 16-24 years and 27% of females aged 25-34 years had experienced symptoms of mental disorder. The proportions of males that experienced symptoms of mental disorder 12 months prior to interview were lower, at 23%, for both these age groups. Only 5% of males and 7% of females in the 75-85 years age group experienced a mental disorder in the 12 months prior to interview.
Among women, Anxiety disorders had the highest prevalence of all disorders across all age groups, with rates above 20% for all age groups of women between 16 and 54 years. The proportions of males who experienced Anxiety disorders were lower, with 9% of males aged 16-24 years and 12% of those aged 25-34 years experiencing Anxiety disorders in the previous 12 months. Females aged 16-24 years had nearly twice the prevalence of 12-month Affective disorders compared with males in the same age group (8% and 4% respectively).
Males aged 25-34 years had more than three times the prevalence of 12-month Substance Use disorders compared with females in the same age group (11% and 3% respectively). Both males and females in the younger age groups had higher prevalences of Substance Use disorders than those in older age groups.
1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends, March 2009 (cat. no. 4102.0), <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Measures of Australia's Progress 2010 (cat. no 1370.0), <www.abs.gov.au>.
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This page last updated 2 August 2012