4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2018   
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PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS

Mental health is fundamental to the wellbeing of individuals, their families and the population as a whole. One indication of the mental health and wellbeing of a population is provided by measuring levels of psychological distress using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). The K10 questionnaire was developed to yield a global measure of psychosocial distress, based on questions about people’s level of nervousness, agitation, psychological fatigue and depression in the past four weeks[1].

LEVELS OF DISTRESS

In 2017-18, around one in eight (13.0% or 2.4 million) Australians aged 18 years and over experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, an increase from 2014-15 (11.7%). Three in five adults (60.8%) experienced a low level of psychological distress in 2017-18, a decrease from 2014-15 (68.0%).

More women than men experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress in 2017-18 (14.5% and 11.3% respectively). Between 2014-15 and 2017-18, rates of high or very high psychological distress remained reasonably stable across most age groups, with the exception of an increase in 55-64 year old women (from 12.3% to 16.9% respectively).

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion with high or very high levels of psychological distress, 2017-18

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


In 2017-18, adults living in areas of most disadvantage across Australia were more than twice as likely to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress than adults living in areas of least disadvantage (18.3% compared with 9.0% respectively), continuing the pattern from 2014-15 (17.7% compared with 7.3% respectively).

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion with high or very high psychological distress by disadvantage(a), 2017-18

Footnote(s): (a) A lower Index of Disadvantage quintile (e.g. the first quintile) indicates relatively greater disadvantage and a lack of advantage in general. A higher Index of Disadvantage (e.g. the fifth quintile) indicates a relative lack of disadvantage and greater advantage in general. See Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage in the Glossary.

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

ENDNOTES

1 Coombs, T., 2005, ‘Australian Mental Health Outcomes and Classification Network; Kessler -10 Training Manual’, NSW Institute of Psychiatry. https://www.amhocn.org/sites/default/files/publication_files/kessler_10_manual.pdf last accessed 11/12/2018