Study paints picture of mental disorders in Australia


More than two in five (43.7%) Australians aged 16 to 85 have suffered from a mental disorder in their lifetime, according to findings released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Linda Fardell, head of health and disability statistics at ABS, said the new National Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey (the study) paints a comprehensive picture of mental disorders in the community and gives insight into well-being.

“Nationally, the study shows that 43.7% (8.6 million) of Australians aged 16 to 85 have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their lives,” Ms Fardell said.

“In 2020-2021, one in five people (21.4%) suffered from a mental disorder. Anxiety was the most common group of mental disorders; 16.8% of all Australians had an anxiety disorder, 7.5% had an affective disorder such as depression, while 3.3% had a substance use disorder.

The study also shows that around 1.1 million (39.6%) young adults aged 16 to 24 suffered from a mental disorder in 2020-2021.

“Almost half (46.6%) of young women and a third (31.2%) of young men aged 16-24 suffered from a mental disorder in 2020-2021, with anxiety disorders being the type of most common disorder in young women and men,” Ms. Fardell said.

The study also provides insight into the steps people take to manage their mental health.

“Around 17.5% (3.4 million) of Australians had at least one consultation with a healthcare professional about their mental health in 2020-21. GPs were the type of healthcare professional most often consulted,” Ms Fardell said.

“Among people with mental disorders in 2020-2021, almost half (47.1%) had at least one consultation with a health professional for their mental health. In addition to these consultations, 4.4% (or 864,100) of Australians have accessed at least one digital service for their mental health, such as crisis support or counseling and online treatment programs or tools. line.

ABS will publish results from the second cohort (2021-22) of the study in 2023, along with results from a combined sample. ABS would like to thank the participants for their contribution to these important conclusions. More information is available for free download from the ABS website –


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