4811.0 - National Health Survey: Mental Health, Australia, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/12/2003   
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December 4, 2003
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
Mental health of Australians in 2001

In 2001, approximately 1.8 million people (10% of the population) reported having a long-term mental or behavioural problem, according to a report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Nearly half of all people with a mental or behavioural problem said that they were 'mostly satisfied', 'pleased' or 'delighted' with their life. However, people with mental and behavioural problems were at least five times more likely than others to describe their satisfaction with life as 'terrible' (5% compared with 1% without mental and behavioural problems) or 'unhappy' (7% compared with 1%).

Females were more likely than males to report having either a mental or behavioural problem (11% of females and 9% of males) or 'very high' psychological distress (4% of women and 3% of men). Overall, 4% of the adult population reported a 'very high' level of psychological distress as measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale-10 (K10).

Couple families with and without children (both 3%) had the lowest rates of 'very high' psychological distress. Single parents with dependent children (7%) and non-dependent children (6%) had the highest rates. After adjusting for age, the rates of mental and behavioural problems and 'very high' psychological distress were highest among adults who lived alone, compared with those living in a household with at least one other person. Twice as many unemployed people had 'very high' psychological distress, compared with the average.

People with conditions such as diabetes, asthma or cancer and those who had an injury in the last month, experienced higher psychological distress than others.

Smoking and drinking rates were higher for people with mental and behavioural problems and people with a very high level of psychological distress. They were also more likely to report being physically inactive, and to have visited a doctor or a hospital, or to have had days away from work or study or other days of reduced activity in the past two weeks.

In 2001, an estimated 2.6 million people (18% of the population), had recently used one or more medications (including vitamins and natural remedies) for their mental well-being.

Further details are in National Health Survey: Mental Health, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 4811.0).