One in five Australians have a mental illness: ABS


One in five Australians aged 16–85 years had a mental disorder in 2007, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Anxiety disorders - such as panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder - were the most common, affecting 14% of people. Affective disorders - such as depression - affected 6%, while substance use disorders affected 5%.

The most commonly experienced anxiety disorders were post-traumatic stress disorder (6%) and social phobia (5%). Depression was the most common affective disorder (4%), and the harmful use of alcohol the most common substance use disorder (3%).

Women were more likely to experience mental disorders (22%) than men (18%), with a higher rate of anxiety disorders (18% compared to 11% for men) and affective disorders (7% and 5%). However, men had more than twice the rate of substance use disorders (7%) compared to women (3%).

Younger people were more likely to have a mental disorder than older people. Just over a quarter (26%) of people aged 16–24 had a disorder compared to 6% of people aged 75–85.

Substance use disorders were more common for younger people (13%) than other age groups, while anxiety disorders were more common in people aged 35–44 (18%).

Just over a third (34%) of people living in one parent families had a mental disorder compared with 19% of people in couple families with children.

Over half (54%) the people who had ever been homeless had a disorder, nearly three times the rate of people who had not.

Mental disorders were also more common in unemployed people (29%) and in people who had ever been incarcerated (41%).

1.9 million people accessed services for mental health problems in the 12 months prior to the survey.

More details can be found in the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results (cat. no. 4326.0).

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