4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
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MENTAL AND BEHAVIOURAL CONDITIONS

Mental and behavioural conditions result 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].

Definitions

In this publication, data on mental and behavioural conditions refer to persons who reported their condition was current and long-term; that is, their condition was current at the time of interview and had lasted, or was expected to last, 6 months or more.

Note that estimates of people with mental or behavioural conditions from the National Health Survey (NHS) will differ from those obtained from a diagnostic tool such as that used in the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing.

In 2017-18, one in five (20.1%) or 4.8 million Australians had a mental or behavioural condition, an increase from around 4.0 million Australians (17.5%) in 2014-15. This increase was predominantly due to an increase in the number of people reporting anxiety-related conditions and depression or feelings of depression.

Overall, mental and behavioural conditions were more common amongst females than males (22.3% compared with 17.9% respectively).

Unlike many other conditions, the proportion of people with a mental or behavioural condition did not increase with age. Almost one in three (30.0%) females aged 15-24 years had a mental or behavioural condition and just over one in five (21.3%) males of the same age.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with a mental or behavioural condition, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18


In 2017-18, around three in five people aged 15-64 years with a mental or behavioural condition were employed, compared with around four in five people of the same age without a mental or behavioural condition (62.1% compared with 79.5% respectively). Also, people aged 15-64 years with a mental or behavioural condition were more likely to be unemployed than people without a mental or behavioural condition (5.6% compared with 3.5% respectively). Almost one in three (32.2%) people aged 15-64 years with a mental or behavioural condition were not in the labour force, almost double the rate of those without a mental or behavioural condition (17.0%).

Graph Image for Persons aged 15-64 years - Proportion with a mental health condition by labour force status, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18


ANXIETY

In 2017-18, 3.2 million Australians (13.1%) had an anxiety-related condition. This was an increase from 2014-15 when 2.6 million people (or 11.2%) had such a condition. Females had an anxiety-related condition at one and a half times the rate of males (15.7% compared with 10.6%).

The increase in rates of anxiety-related conditions between 2014-15 and 2017-18 was predominately in the younger age groups. For females aged 15-24 years, the proportion with anxiety-related conditions increased from 18.9% in 2014-15 to 24.6% in 2017-18. For males of the same age, the rate of anxiety-related conditions almost doubled between 2014-15 and 2017-18 (7.9% to 13.9%).

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with anxiety-related conditions, 2014-15 and 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18


DEPRESSION OR FEELINGS OF DEPRESSION

Just over one in ten people (10.4%) had depression or feelings of depression in 2017-18, compared with 8.9% in 2014-15. While overall, females had depression or feelings of depression at a higher rate than males (11.6% compared with 9.1% respectively), the increase between 2014-15 and 2017-18 was especially evident amongst males aged 15-54 years.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with depression or feelings of depression, 2014-15 and 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results 2017-18


Anxiety and depression commonly occur together, with around 1.5 million Australians (6.1%) having both an anxiety-related condition and depression or feelings of depression in 2017-18 (an increase from 2014-15, 1.1 million people or 5.0%).

SIGNIFICANT AND COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MENTAL HEALTH AND DISABILITY

People with disability or a restrictive long-term health condition had much higher rates of mental and behavioural conditions compared with people with no disability or restrictive long-term health condition.

In 2017-18, more than half (57.9%) of all people with a profound or severe disability reported having a mental or behavioural condition, more than four times that of people with no disability or restrictive long-term health condition (13.7%), highlighting the significant and complex relationship between mental health and disability.

PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS

Information on psychological distress was also collected from adult respondents in the National Health Survey using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). See Psychological distress.

ENDNOTES

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 23/11/2018