4715.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2018-19 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2019   
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Mental health


Mental and behavioural conditions

Mental and behavioural conditions encompass a number of chronic conditions resulting from a complex interplay of biological, social, psychological, environmental and economic factors, and can significantly affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with other people [1].

Around one-quarter (24%) of people aged two years and over reported having a mental or behavioural condition [2].

The proportion of people with a mental or behavioural condition was:

    • about the same for males (23%) and females (25%)
    • around three times higher for people living in non-remote areas (28%) than remote areas (10%)
    • around three in 10 for most age groups, except those aged 2–14 years (15%) and 15–24 years (24%) [3].

Anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%) by people aged two years and over. The proportion with anxiety was higher for females (21%) than males (12%).

Depression (including feelings of depression) was the second most common condition reported (13%). The proportion of females who reported depression (16%) was higher than for males (10%).


Most common mental and behavioural conditions, by sex — people aged two years and over
Graph shows a higher proportion of females than males had anxiety  (16% compared with 10%) or depression (21% compared with 12%). A higher proportion of males (12%) than females (7%) had behavioural or emotional problems.

(a) Includes anxiety disorder, including generalised anxiety disorder. (b) Includes feeling depressed. (c) Includes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorders for children, adolescents and adults, other behavioural and emotional problems with usual onset in childhood/adolescence, schizophrenia-related problems, and intellectual impairment.

Source(s): 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey


Anxiety and depression were the most common conditions reported for most age groups. The only exception was for children aged 2–14 years, where behavioural or emotional problems (11%) was the most common condition.

Psychological distress

A person’s level of psychological distress [4] provides an indication of their mental health and wellbeing.

Around three in 10 (31%) people aged 18 years and over experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress.

The proportion of people who experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress was:
    • about the same as 2012–13 (30%)
    • higher for females (35%) than males (26%)
    • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (31%) and remote areas (28%)
    • about the same for all age groups.


Footnotes
1. Australian Health Ministers, 'Fourth National Mental Health Plan: an Agenda for Collaborative Government Action in Mental Health 2009–2014', 2009, <http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-f-plan09-toc>; last accessed 14/11/2019.
2. See Mental health and wellbeing data (appendix) for more information.
3. The difference between people aged between 15–24 years and 55 years and over, and between 25–34 years, 35-44 years, 45–54 years and 55 years and over, is not statistically significant.
4. Based on the modified Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K5). See Mental health and wellbeing data (appendix) for more information.