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MENTAL HEALTH RISK FACTORS
- the death of a family member or friend;
- a serious illness or accident;
- alcohol or drug related problems;
- mental illness;
- serious disability;
- loss of job or being unable to get a job;
- being a witness to/victim of abuse or violence;
- trouble with the police; or
- gambling problems.
In 2007-08, people who had experienced any of the stressors identified above were more likely to experience psychological distress than people who had not experienced personal stressors. The highest levels of psychological distress were experienced by people with a serious disability, (including people who identified a family member or close friend with a serious disability). One third of these people (33%) experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, almost five times higher than people who said they had no personal stressors (7%). Around 30% of people who had trouble with the police in the past year reported high or very high levels of distress, followed by 29% of people affected by a gambling problem. For more detail, see datacube table 6.
From this point, data is drawn from the 2007 SMHWB.
The SMHWB collected information on a range of financial stressors that a person may have experienced at any time in the past year, including where they:
- pawned or sold something;
- went without meals;
- were unable to heat their own home;
- sought assistance from welfare or community organisations; or
- sought financial assistance from friends or family.
In 2007, people aged 18-85 years who had experienced financial stressors in the past year were more likely to have higher levels of psychological distress than those who reported no financial stressors (see datacube table 7).
Just under half the people who said they could not afford to heat their home at some time in the past year had high or very high levels of psychological distress (48%), while 44% of people who had gone without meals and 43% of people who had sought assistance from welfare or community organisations also had high or very high levels of distress.
Life experiences (homelessness, incarceration and serving in the defence force)
Life experiences can influence a person’s level of psychological distress, particularly if they are negative experiences. In 2007, over 470,000 people between 18 and 85 years of age reported having been homeless at some point in their lives (see datacube table 8). Of these people, 38% had high or very high levels of psychological distress, over four times higher than those who had never been homeless (8.5%).
In 2007, people who had spent time in gaol or incarcerated at some point in their life were more likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress (25%) than those who had not been incarcerated (9%). In 2010, around 29% of people awaiting entry into prison also showed high or very high levels of psychological distress (AIHW, 2010).