4363.0 - National Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2017-18  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/04/2019   
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Mental, behavioural and cognitive conditions


In 2014-15 a new module was created in the NHS to collect information specifically about mental, behavioural and cognitive conditions. This module was used in 2017-18.

Mental, behavioural and cognitive conditions are a broad and diverse range of health conditions including relatively mild conditions of short duration, episodic/recurring conditions, and severe and disabling conditions. This collection of conditions is often experienced simultaneously.

People of all ages can develop symptoms and behaviours that are distressing to themselves or others, and interfere with their social functioning and capacity to negotiate daily life. These symptoms and behaviours may require treatment, rehabilitation, or even hospitalisation. A diverse range of social, environmental, biological and psychological factors can impact on an individual’s mental health.


Information was obtained for all persons in the NHS.


Respondents were asked to identify whether they had any of the following mental health, behavioural and/or cognitive conditions listed on the prompt card (including any conditions they were managing with treatment or medication):

    • Depression, including Persistent depressive disorder
    • Feeling depressed
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Mania
    • Anxiety disorder
    • Feeling anxious, nervous or tense
    • Panic disorder
    • Panic attacks
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • Agoraphobia
    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    • Social Phobia
    • Other affective or anxiety condition.

More than one response was allowed and up to three 'Other affective or anxiety conditions' could be recorded.

They were then asked whether they had any other mental health, behavioural or cognitive conditions such as the following (provided on prompt card):
    • Substance use disorders, such as:
      • Harmful use or dependence on alcohol
      • Harmful use or dependence on drugs
      • Harmful use or dependence on medicinal/prescription drugs
    • Developmental and learning conditions, such as:
      • Autism spectrum disorders, such as Rett’s syndrome and Asperger syndrome
      • Intellectual impairment/mental retardation
    • Behavioural conditions, such as:
      • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
      • Conduct disorder
    • Other mental and behavioural conditions, such as:
      • Dementia, including Alzheimer’s Disease
      • Schizophrenia
      • Any other mental or behavioural condition.

More than one response was allowed and up to three 'Other mental or behavioural conditions' could be recorded.

Respondents who reported one or more mental health, behavioural and/or cognitive conditions, were then asked:
    • Whether the condition had lasted, or was expected to last, for 6 months or more (i.e. was long-term) and, if so, which one(s).
    • Whether they had been told by a doctor or nurse that they had each of the conditions reported (i.e. diagnosed).

Data Items

The questionnaire, data items and related output categories for this topic are available in pdf / Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered in interpreting data for this topic include the following:
    • It is possible that there may be under-reporting of mental health conditions by proxies or when other household members are present due to the personal or sensitive nature of these conditions.
    • As this is a household-based survey, those people with mental, behavioural and cognitive conditions resident in hospitals, nursing or convalescent homes, or similar accommodation are outside the scope of this survey. As a result, the survey may under-represent those with more severe complications of the condition.

Comparability with 2014-15

In 2017-18 NHS an additional example of '32. Learning difficulties, including dyslexia' was added to a prompt card O2, for the Mental, Behavioural and Cognitive Conditions module. All other items remain the same and have been coded consistently with 2014-15.

Data for 2011-12 and earlier cycles are not comparable with 2014-15 and 2017-18 due to the introduction of the new mental, behavioural and cognitive conditions module in the 2014-15 NHS. More information regarding comparisons between 2014-15 NHS and previous cycles is available in the National Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4363.0).