Two in five Australians have experienced a mental disorder

Media Release

More than two in five Australians (42.9 per cent) aged 16–85 years have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime, with one in five Australians (21.5 per cent) experiencing a mental disorder in the previous 12 months, according to findings released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Linda Fardell, ABS head of health statistics, said: “Today’s release presents the findings from the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Nearly 16,000 Australians took part in this study, and it offers a comprehensive view of mental health in the community across 2020–2022.

“Anxiety was the most common group of mental disorders in 2020–2022. More than one in six Australians (17.2 per cent) had an anxiety disorder such as social phobia or post-traumatic stress disorder in the previous 12 months.”

“7.5 per cent of people had an affective disorder such as depression, while 3.3 per cent had a substance use disorder.”

Today’s data also showed that around 1.1 million (38.8 per cent) young adults aged 16–24 years experienced a mental disorder in the previous 12 months.

“Almost half of young females (45.5 per cent) and one third of young males (32.4 per cent) aged 16–24 years had a mental disorder in this period, with anxiety disorders being the most common,” Ms Fardell said. 

“Nearly three in five people (58.7 per cent) who identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, or who used a different term to describe their sexual orientation, had a mental disorder in the previous 12 months. One in five people (19.9 per cent) who identified as heterosexual had a mental disorder in the same period.”

The study also gives insights into how people manage their mental health.

“Nearly a quarter of all Australians aged 16–34 years (22.9 per cent) had at least one consultation with a health professional for their mental health in the last 12 months,” Ms Fardell said.

“8.2 per cent of people in this age group also accessed other services for their mental health including treatment programs, crisis support, counselling, support groups and chat rooms.

“Almost half of all people who had a mental disorder in the previous 12 months (45.1 per cent) saw a health professional for their mental health and one in seven (14.3 per cent) accessed other services.”

The ABS would like to thank participants for contributing to these important findings. More information is available for free download from the ABS website.

If you or someone you know requires assistance or support, please call Lifeline (13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (1300 224 636).

Media notes

  • Care should be taken when reporting on mental ill-health and suicide, please refer to the Mindframe website for further guidance.
  • Different terms that people may use to describe their sexual orientation include Asexual, Pansexual and Queer.
  • The Study used the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0 diagnostic tool (CIDI 3.0 tool) to determine mental disorders. This tool is comparable to other international studies.
  • The term ‘mental disorder’ is used throughout the Study to align with definitions and criteria of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Responses from participants are assessed to determine whether a person’s symptoms meet diagnostic criteria for having a mental disorder in their lifetime and in the 12 months prior to the study interview.
  • The CIDI 3.0 tool provides a diagnosis of common mental disorders that does not rely upon whether a person has been seen a health professional or been told they have a particular disorder, or upon self-diagnosis. 
  • Anxiety disorders include Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Phobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Affective disorders include Depressive Episode, Dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) and Bipolar Affective Disorder.
  • Substance Use disorders include Alcohol Harmful Use, Alcohol Dependence and Drug Use Disorders.
  • The data in this media release is presented by sex at birth. Please see the Standard for Sex, Gender, Variations of Sex Characteristics and Sexual Orientation Variables, 2020 for further details.
  • This is not a COVID-specific study, so it is not possible to assess any impacts of the pandemic on mental health. The study does provide information about levels of psychological distress and the strategies that people used to manage their mental health across 2020–2022.
  • This study was funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care as part of the Intergenerational Health and Mental Health Study.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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