4840.0.55.001 - Mental Health of Young People, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/07/2010  First Issue
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This article provides a brief overview of the mental health of young people aged 16-24 years in Australia. It includes information on the prevalence of mental disorders* for people in this age group, as well as their socioeconomic characteristics, level of impairment and the health service usage of young people with mental illness. Data are sourced from the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (SMHWB).

Mental health is 'a state of wellbeing in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community' (1). Mental illness describes 'a number of diagnosable disorders that significantly interfere with an individual's cognitive, emotional or social abilities' (2).

Adolescence and young adulthood is a critical stage of transition, in physical and mental development. Vulnerability to mental illness is heightened at this time of major life change and over three-quarters (76%) of people who experience mental disorder during their lifetime will first develop a disorder before the age of 25 years. Mental disorders in young people can seriously disrupt their growth and development, eroding quality of life by affecting their self-confidence and independence, and social and family relationships, as well as their education and employment (3).

*This article focuses on young people who met criteria for a diagnosis of a lifetime mental disorder and who experienced symptoms in the 12 months prior to the survey.