Statistics tell mental health story

The study showed more than two out of five Australians have suffered from a mental illness.

By Matthew Sims

More than two in every five Australians have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their lives, according to an Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS] study.

Released last month, the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing for 2020-2021 showed that 43.7 per cent or about 8.6 million Australians aged between 16 and 85 have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their lives.

ABS health and disability statistics head Linda Fardell said anxiety was the most common group of disorders.

“In 2020-21, one in five people (21.4 per cent) experienced a mental disorder,“ she said.

“Almost half (46.6 per cent) of young females and one third (31.2 per cent) of young males aged 16-24 years had a mental disorder in 2020-21, with anxiety disorders being the most common type of disorder among young females and males.“

Cohealth mental health local project implementation lead Suzanne Dick said Melbourne’s western suburbs, including those within the Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay areas, were among the communities hit first and hit hardest by the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

“Loss of income, isolation from friends and family and disrupted education can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions, and trigger episodes in people with no history of mental ill health,“ she said.

“Where pre-existing structural disadvantage exists, mental health is likely to be worse for the individual and the community, particularly in times of upheaval such as that created by the pandemic.“

Ms Dick said cohealth has been operating four mental health and wellbeing hubs, including one within the Maribyrnong area.

“Our data shows that clients coming to our mental health and wellbeing hubs in the west are presenting with increased financial difficulties, housing insecurity, social isolation and loneliness,“ she said.

“This year, the main issue experienced by our young clients is increased difficulties with adjusting to return to school and social activities.“