- + Key points: Psychological distress
Latest available information
Latest available data for adults in NSW
• 17.7% of adults aged 16 years and over (15.7% of men and 19.5% of women) experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, as estimated from the 2019 NSW Adult Population Health Survey (self-reported using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing or CATI).
• 12.8% of adults aged 18 years and over (11.8% of males and 13.8% of females) in NSW experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, as estimated from the 2017-18 Australian Health Survey (interviewer-administered questionnaire).
• Overall suicide rates dropped in NSW between 1997 and 2007 but has increased since this time. In 2017, 868 people died by suicide and males accounted for around 77.6% of these deaths.
• In 2017-18, there were 7,236 hospitalisations of NSW residents for intentional self-harm. Females accounted for 63% of these hospitalisations.
• In 2017, 14.0% of secondary school students reported high levels of psychological distress in the previous six months (9.7% of males and 18.2% of females). The proportion of students reporting high levels of psychological distress has remained stable over the last 3 years (2014 to 2017).
• Generally, a lower proportion of elderly adults have high levels of psychological distress than the overall adult population in NSW.
• The least socioeconomically disadvantaged adults had lower levels of psychological distress than the overall adult population in NSW.
• The proportion of adults reporting high and very high levels of psychological distress has remained fairly stable over the last decade.
- + Background: Psychological distress
Mental health disorders relate to behaviours and conditions which interfere with social functioning and capacity to negotiate daily life. Mental problems are also associated with higher rates of health risk factors, poorer physical health, and higher rates of deaths from many causes including suicide.
The classification of mental and behavioural disorders is difficult and warrants close attention to the types of disorders and syndromes which are included and excluded when comparing results from different sources. Further discussion of this issue is contained in the Methods tab.
Burden of disease of mental conditions in Australia
Mental ill health is one of the leading causes of non-fatal burden of disease and injury in Australia. Mental ill health was estimated to account for 12% of the disease burden in Australia in 2015, with anxiety and depression, alcohol abuse and personality disorders accounting for almost three-quarters of this burden. Only 2.5% of the burden from mental disorders is due to mortality, most of which is accounted for by fatal outcomes associated with substance abuse (AIHW 2019).
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2015. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 19. BOD 22. Canberra: AIHW. Available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/c076f42f-61ea-4348-9c0a-d996353e838f/aihw-bod-22.pdf.aspx?inline=true
- + Interventions: Psychological distress
NSW has a range of mental health programs covering early intervention, prevention and promotion initiatives in place across the age spectrum. See http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/Pages/default.aspx
- + For more information: Psychological distress
Beyondblue at http://www.beyondblue.org.au
Black Dog Institute at http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
WayAhead: Mental Health Association NSW at https://wayahead.org.au
Australian Bureau of Statistics at http://www.abs.gov.au
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare at http://www.aihw.gov.au
healthdirect at http://www.healthdirect.gov.au