4326.0 - National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/10/2008   
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Affective (mood) disorders

Disorders that involve mood disturbance. Examples include bipolar affective disorder, depressive episode and dysthymia.


Fear of being in public places from which it may be difficult to escape. Includes fears of leaving home, crowds, or travelling in trains, buses or planes. A compelling desire to avoid the phobic situation is often prominent.

Alcohol consumption

Frequency of consumption in the 12 months prior to interview. Only persons who had at least 12 standard drinks in a year were asked about their consumption. See Standard drink.

Anxiety disorders

Disorders that involve feelings of tension, distress or nervousness. In this survey the following anxiety disorders were collected; Panic Disorder, Social Phobia, Agoraphobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Area of usual residence

State capital city is the capital city Statistical Division for each State or Territory. Balance of State/Territory covers the remaining areas. For more detailed information refer to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), July 2007 (cat. no. 1216.0).

Assessment of Quality of Life (AQoL)

An Australian-developed quality of life instrument that is used to measure the burden of disease. Questions measure: illness, independence, social relationships, physical senses, and psychological wellbeing.

Bipolar Affective Disorder

Characterised by repeated episodes in which the person's mood and activity levels are significantly disturbed - on some occasions lowered (depression) and on some occasions elevated (mania or hypomania).

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Calculated from reported height and weight information, using the formula weight (kg) divided by the square of height (m). BMI values are grouped according to the list below which allows categories to be reported against both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines.

  • Underweight: Less than 18.5
  • Normal weight range: 18.5 to less than 25.0
  • Overweight: 25.0 to less than 30.0
  • Obese: 30.0 and greater


The provision of care to an immediate family member who has cancer, serious heart problems, serious memory problems, an intellectual disability, a physical disability, chronic illness, alcohol or drug problems, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia or psychosis, bipolar affective disorder or other serious chronic mental problems. Provision of care includes helping with washing, dressing or eating, paperwork, housework, getting around or taking medications, or keeping company and giving emotional support.

Chronic conditions

A physical condition or disorder that has lasted, or is expected to last for six (6) months or more. May also be referred to as a long-term health condition or chronic disease.


The occurrence of more than one mental disorder at the same time. Comorbidity may refer to the co-occurrence of mental disorders and the co-occurrence of mental disorders and physical conditions.

Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI)

A comprehensive modular interview which can be used to assess lifetime and 12-month prevalence of mental disorders through the measurement of symptoms and their impact on day-to-day activities.

Contact with family or friends

Whether in contact with any family and/or friends, and the frequency of the contact. Contact includes visits, phone calls, letters, or electronic mail messages.

Country of birth

The classification of countries is the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC). For more detailed information refer to the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 1998 (cat. no. 1269.0).

Days out of role

The number of days in the 30 days prior to interview that a person was unable to work or carry out normal activities or had to cut down what they did because of their health.


A maladaptive pattern of use in which the use of drugs or alcohol takes on a much higher priority for a person than other behaviours that once had greater value. The central characteristic is the strong, sometimes overpowering, desire to take the substance despite significant substance-related problems.

Depressive Episode

A state of gloom, despondency or sadness lasting at least two weeks. The person usually suffers from low mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy. Their sleep, appetite and concentration may be affected.

Disability status

Whether has a disability, the level of core-activity limitation (none, mild, moderate, severe or profound), and whether has a schooling or employment restriction.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV)

The DSM-IV is a handbook for mental health professionals that lists different categories of mental disorders and the criteria for diagnosing them. The DSM-IV focuses on clinical, research and educational purposes, supported by an extensive empirical foundation.

Drug Use disorder

Drug Use disorder involves the harmful use and/or dependence on drugs. Drugs include the use of illicit substances and the misuse of prescribed medicines. Four drug categories have been included in this survey:
  • sedatives, eg serepax, sleeping pills, valium
  • stimulants, eg amphetamines, speed
  • marijuana, ie hashish
  • opioids, eg heroin, methadone, opium.


A suite of rooms contained within a building which are self-contained and intended for long-term residential use. To be self-contained, the suite of rooms must possess cooking and bathing facilities as building fixtures. Examples of types of dwelling include: separate house; semi-detached, row or terrace house or townhouse; flat, unit or apartment; and other dwellings, including caravan, cabin, houseboat, and house or flat attached to a shop.


A disorder characterised by constant or constantly recurring chronic depression of mood, lasting at least two years, which is not sufficiently severe, or whose episodes are not sufficiently prolonged, to qualify as recurrent depressive disorder. The person feels tired and depressed, sleeps badly and feels inadequate, but is usually able to cope with the basic demands of everyday life.


People aged 15 years and over who had a job or business, or who undertook work without pay in a family business for a minimum of one hour per week. Includes persons who were absent from a job or business.

Employed full-time

Employed persons who usually worked 35 hours a week (in all jobs) and those who, although usually working less than 35 hours a week, worked 35 hours or more during the reference week.

Employed part-time

Employed persons who usually worked less than 35 hours a week (in all jobs) and either did so during the reference week, or were not at work in the reference week.

Family composition of household

Refers to the family composition of the household to which the respondent belonged. In this publication households are categorised as lone person, couple only, couple family with child(ren), one parent family with child(ren), and other households.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

A disorder involving anxiety that is generalised and persistent, but not restricted to any particular environmental circumstances. It is chronic and exaggerated worry or tension, even though nothing seems to provoke it. Symptoms are variable, but include complaints of persistent nervousness, trembling, muscular tensions, sweating, light-headedness, palpitations, dizziness and epigastric discomfort. The person may also anticipate disaster or worry excessively about health, money, family or work.

Government support

Cash support from the government in the form of pensions, benefits or allowances.

Harmful Use

A pattern of use of alcohol or drugs that is responsible for (or substantially contributes to) physical or psychological harm, including impaired judgement or dysfunctional behaviour.

Health risk factors

Characteristics that may increase the likelihood of injury or illness, for example level of exercise, smoking, alcohol/drug consumption etc.

Hierarchy rule

When hierarchy rules are applied, a person is excluded from a diagnosis, even though they have sufficient symptoms to meet criteria, because they have another disorder that is thought to account for those symptoms.


Includes sleeping in public places, homeless shelters, a tent, an abandoned building or couch surfing when a person has no other choice.


A group of residents of a dwelling who share common facilities and meals or who consider themselves to be a household. It is possible for a dwelling to contain more than one household, for example, where regular provision is made for groups to take meals separately and where persons consider their households to be separate.

Household income

Derived as the sum of the reported personal cash incomes of all household members aged 15 years and over. Household incomes were then divided into quintiles; 1st quintile is the lowest income, 5th quintile is the highest income. Cases where household income could not be derived are excluded before quintiles are created.


A lesser degree of mania characterised by a persistent mild elevation of mood and increased activity lasting at least four consecutive days. Increased sociability, over-familiarity and a decreased need for sleep are often present, but not to the extent that they lead to severe disruption.

Immediate family member

Parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, brothers and sisters, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and spouse/partner.


Time spent in gaol, prison or correctional facility.

Index of disadvantage

This is one of four Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFAs) compiled by ABS following each Census of Population and Housing. The indexes are compiled from various characteristics of persons resident in particular areas. The index of disadvantage summarises attributes such as low income, low educational attainment, high unemployment and jobs in relatively unskilled occupations. For more information refer to Information Paper: An introduction to socio-economic indexes for areas (SEIFA), 2006 (cat. no. 2039.0).

Industry of main job

A group of businesses or organisations which perform similar sets of activities in terms of the production of goods and services. For more information refer to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006 (cat. no. 1292.0).

International Classification of Diseases-Tenth Revision (ICD-10)

The ICD-10 is the tenth edition of the international standard diagnostic classification for all general epidemiological purposes, many health management purposes and in clinical use. The ICD is produced by the World Health Organization and is used in the diagnosis, study and classification of diseases.

Labour force status

Persons aged 15 years and over who were 'employed', 'unemployed' or 'not in the labour force' as defined.

Level of exercise

Based on frequency, intensity (ie walking, moderate exercise or vigorous exercise) and duration of exercise (for recreation, sport or fitness) in the week prior to interview. From these components, an exercise category was determined using factors to represent the intensity of the exercise. Categories were grouped according to the following levels of exercise:
  • Very low: Less than 100 minutes (including no exercise)
  • Low: 100 minutes to less than 1,600 minutes
  • Moderate: 1,600-3,200 minutes, or more than 3,200 minutes, but less than 2 hours of vigorous exercise
  • High: More than 3,200 minutes including 2 hours or more of vigorous exercise.

Level of highest non-school qualification

The highest level of educational attainment. For more information refer to the Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED), 2001 (cat. no. 1272.0).

Main source of personal income

Includes employee cash income, unincorporated cash income, government cash pensions or allowances, property cash income, superannuation/annuities, transfer from private organisations and transfer from other households.


A disorder in which mood is happy, elevated, expansive or irritable out of keeping with the person's circumstances lasting at least seven days and leading to severe disruption with daily living. The person may exhibit hyperactivity, inflated self-esteem, distractibility and over-familiar or reckless behaviour.

Marital status

Based on registered marriage status with the inclusion of de facto relationship. See also Registered marital status and Social marital status.

Mental disorder

According to the ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders, a disorder implies 'the existence of a clinically recognisable set of symptoms or behaviour associated in most cases with distress and with interference with personal functions' (WHO 1992, p5). Most diagnoses require criteria relating to severity and duration to be met.

Mental health problem

Problems with mental health, such as stress, worry or sadness; regardless of whether they met criteria for mental disorders.

Misuse of drugs

Misuse of drugs in the 12 months prior to interview. Refers to the use of illicit drugs and/or the misuse of prescription drugs. People must have misused the same drug more than five times in their lifetime.

Not in the labour force

People who were not in the categories 'employed' or 'unemployed' as defined.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Characterised by obsessions (recurrent thoughts, ideas or images), compulsions (repetitive acts) or both, which cause distress or interfere with the person's normal functioning.

Occupation of main job

A set of jobs that require the performance of similar or identical sets of tasks. As it is rare for two actual jobs to have identical sets of tasks, in practical terms, an occupation is a set of jobs whose main tasks are characterised by a high degree of similarity. For further information refer to Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), First edition, 2006 (cat. no. 1220.0).

Panic attack

A panic attack is a discrete episode of intense fear or discomfort that starts abruptly and reaches a peak within a few minutes and lasts at least some minutes.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is recurrent attacks of severe anxiety (panic), which are not restricted to any particular situation or set of circumstances (ie do not occur in the presence of a phobia, or in situations of danger) and are therefore unpredictable.

Perceived health needs

For each type of help, perceived health needs of respondents were classified as follows:
  • no need - those who were not receiving help and felt that they had no need for it;
  • need fully met - those who were receiving help and felt that it was adequate;
  • need partially met - those who were receiving help but not as much as they felt they needed; and
  • need not met - those who were not receiving help but felt that they needed it.

Physical condition

A medical condition, illness, injury or disability including: asthma; cancer; stroke (or the effects of a stroke); gout, rheumatism or arthritis; diabetes or high blood sugar levels; and any other heart or circulatory condition. Information was also collected about the presence of the following physical conditions only if they had lasted for six months or more: hayfever; sinusitis or sinus allergy; emphysema; bronchitis; anaemia;epilepsy; fluid problems/fluid retention/oedema (excluding those due to heart or circulatory problems); hernias; kidney problems; migraine; psoriasis; stomach ulcer or other gastrointestinal ulcer; thyroid trouble/goiter; tuberculosis; back or neck pain or back or neck problems. The presence of any other physical conditions were not determined.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A delayed and/or protracted response to a psychologically distressing event that is outside the range of usual human experience. Experiencing such an event is usually associated with intense fear, terror or helplessness. The characteristic symptoms involve re-experiencing the traumatic event (flashbacks), avoidance of situations or activities associated with the event, numbing of general responsiveness and increased arousal.

Prevalence of mental disorders

The proportion of people in a given population who met the criteria for diagnosis of a mental disorder at a point in time.

Psychological distress

Derived from the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). This is a scale of non-specific psychological distress based on 10 questions about negative emotional states in the 30 days prior to interview. The K10 is scored from 10 to 50, with higher scores indicating a higher level of distress; low scores indicate a low level of distress. In this publication, scores are grouped as follows:
  • Low 10-15;
  • Moderate 16-21;
  • High 22-29; and
  • Very high 30-50.


A mental disorder in which the person has strange ideas or experiences which are unaffected by rational argument and are out of keeping with the views of any culture or group that the person belongs to.

Registered marital status

An individual's current status in regard to a registered marriage, ie whether he or she is widowed, divorced, separated, married or never married.

Section of state

This geographical classification uses population counts to define Collection Districts (CDs) as urban or rural. Population counts are used to define a geographical area as a major urban area (population of 100,000 or more), other urban area (population of 1,000-9,999), bounded locality (population of 200-999) and rural balance (the remainder of the state/territory). For more information refer to Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC), 2007 (cat. no. 1216.0).

Service for the Australian defence forces

Includes persons who had overseas qualifying service, serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members.

Services used for mental health problems

Services used for self-perceived mental health problems in the 12 months prior to interview. Services include admissions to hospitals and consultations with health professionals for mental health. An individual may have considered they had a mental health problem prior to using services, or may have come to the realisation following consultation with a health professional.

Smoker status

The extent to which an adult was smoking at the time of interview, and refers to regular smoking of tobacco, including manufactured (packet) cigarettes, roll-your-own cigarettes, cigars and pipes, but excludes chewing tobacco and smoking of non-tobacco products. Categorised as:
  • Current daily smoker - an adult who reported at the time of the interview that they regularly smoked one or more cigarettes, cigars or pipes per day;
  • Current smoker - other - an adult who reported at the time of interview that they smoked cigarettes, cigars or pipes at least once a week, but not daily, or less than weekly;
  • Ex-smoker - an adult who reported they did not currently smoke, but had regularly smoked daily, or had smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetime; and
  • Never smoked - an adult who reported they had never regularly smoked daily, and had smoked less than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime.

Social marital status

Social marital status is the relationship status of an individual with reference to another person who is usually resident in the household. A marriage exists when two people live together as husband and wife, or partners, regardless of whether the marriage is formalised through registration. Individuals are, therefore, regarded as married if they are in a de facto marriage, or if they are living with the person to whom they are registered as married.

Social networks

For respondents who had contact with family and/or friends, whether they can rely on or confide in them if they were faced with a serious problem. See Contact with family or friends.

Social Phobia

A persistent, irrational fear of being the focus of attention, or fear of behaving in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating. These fears arise in social situations such as meeting new people or speaking in public. A compelling desire to avoid the phobic situation may result.

Standard drink

A standard drink contains 12.5ml of alcohol. It is important to note that the serving size will determine the number of standard drinks per serve, as shown by these approximations:
  • Can/Stubbie light beer = 0.8 standard drink
  • Can/Stubbie medium light beer = 1 standard drink
  • Can/Stubbie regular beer = 1.5 standard drinks
  • 100ml wine (9 to 13% alcohol) = 1 standard drink
  • 30ml nip spirits = 1 standard drink
  • Can spirits (approx 5% alcohol) = 1.5 to 2.5 standard drinks

Substance Use disorder

Substance Use disorders include harmful use and/or dependence on drugs and/or alcohol.

Suicidal behaviours

Three experiences are included as suicidal behaviours:
  • Ideation (ie the presence of serious thoughts about committing suicide);
  • Plans; or
  • Attempts.

Type of health professional

Type of health professionals:
  • general practitioner
  • psychiatrist
  • psychologist
  • mental health nurse
  • other mental health professional - includes specialist mental health services, such as a social worker, counsellor or occupational therapist
  • other health professional - includes those providing general services; a specialist or surgeon, such as a cardiologist, gynaecologist or urologist; or complimentary/alternative therapists, such as a herbalist or naturopath.

Type of help for mental health problems

A range of assistance provided by health services for mental health problems:
  • information
  • medication
  • counselling
  • social intervention (ie help to sort out practical issues such as housing or money problems, or for support or company, or to help meet people)
  • skills training (ie help to improve ability to work, to care for self, or to use time more effectively)

Type of medication used for mental health

Refers to the type of medication reported by respondents as used for their mental health in the two weeks prior to interview. May include medications used for preventive health purposes as well as medications used for mental disorders and includes vitamins and minerals, natural and herbal medications and pharmaceutical medications.


People aged 15 years and over who were not employed during the reference week, and:
  • had actively looked for full-time or part-time work at any time in the four weeks up to the end of the reference week and were available for work in the reference week; or
  • were waiting to start a new job within four weeks from the end of the reference week and could have started in the reference week if the job had been available then.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.


The WHO Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) is a simple tool for assessing disturbances in social adjustment and behaviour in patients with a mental disorder. The current version (WHODAS II) represents a complete revision, reflective of WHO's current thinking about functioning and disability.