4326.5 - Mental Health and Wellbeing: Profile of Adults, Western Australia, 1997-98  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 09/03/1999   
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March 9, 1999
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
One in five WA adults experience mental disorder - ABS

A special Australian Bureau of Statistics report, based on a survey commissioned by the Health Department of Western Australia, shows that 19% of adults living in the state had a mental disorder during the 12 months prior to the survey conducted in 1997-98. These figures are consistent with national data released last year from the 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of Adults.

The ABS report presents Western Australian data drawn from both these surveys. Summary information is included on the prevalence of selected mental disorders, the level of disability associated with these disorders, and health services used and help needed as a consequence of a mental health problem for Western Australians aged 18 years or more.

Some highlights include:
  • In Western Australia, young adults aged 18-24 years had the highest prevalence of mental disorder (34%), declining steadily to 6% of those aged 65 years and over.
  • Women were about twice as likely as men to have experienced anxiety disorders (13% compared with 7%). For both men and women, post-traumatic stress disorder and generalised anxiety disorder were the most common anxiety disorders.
  • The prevalence of affective (mood) disorders was highest at 16% of women aged 18-24, almost three times the rate for men of this age. Most people with an affective disorder met the criteria for depression (93% of women and 86% of men).
  • Young men were particularly prone to substance use disorders, with 30% of those aged 18-24 affected. Alcohol use disorders were more than twice as common as drug use disorders.
  • After adjusting for age, the prevalence of mental disorder was highest for men and women living alone (25% and 27% respectively). Rates of mental disorder were also high among those who were separated or divorced (21% of men and 29% of women). People who had never married also had higher rates of mental disorder than those who were married.
  • After adjusting for age, rates of mental disorder were highest for men and women who were unemployed, or not in the labour force. Unemployed people had relatively high rates of affective disorders (13% of men and 18% of women). Unemployed women also had a high rate of anxiety disorders (17%), while unemployed men had a high rate of substance use disorders (20%).
  • Of those with mental disorders, 39% used a health service for mental health problems over the 12 months prior to interview, with 32% consulting a general practitioner. Service use for mental health problems generally increased with disability. In particular, psychiatrists played a greater role relative to other service providers as disability increased.

Details are in Mental Health and Wellbeing: Profile of Adults, Western Australia 1997-98 (cat. no. 4326.5), available from ABS bookshops. Main Features from this publication are available on this site.