HealthStats NSW

  • + Key points: Psychological distress

    Latest available information

    Latest available data for adults in NSW

    • 11.8% of adults aged 16 years and over (10.0% of men and 13.6% of women) experienced levels of psychological distress, as estimated from the 2015 NSW Adult Population Health Survey (self-reported using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing or CATI). Further, adults cut down on their activities around one day per month on average due to psychological distress.

    • 11.0% of adults aged 18 years and over (9.0% of males and 12.5% of females) in NSW experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, as estimated from the 2014-15 Australian Health Survey (interviewer-administered questionnaire).

    • Overall suicide rates dropped in NSW between 1997 and 2007 but have been fairly stable since this time. In 2013, 674 people died by suicide and males accounted for around 73% of these deaths.

    • In 2014-15, there were more than 10,600 hospitalisations of NSW residents for intentional self-harm. Females accounted for more than 60% of these hospitalisations.

    • In 2012, around 1% of NSW children aged 17 years or under were prescribed stimulant medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This was well below the estimated prevalence of ADHD.

    • In 2014, 13.3% of secondary school students reported high levels of psychological distress in the previous six months (9.6% of males and over 17.2% of females). The proportion of students reporting high levels of psychological distress has remained stable over the last 3 years (2011 to 2014).

    • 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 did not change during the previous decade.

  • + Background: Psychological distress

    Definitions

    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 2011, with anxiety and depression, alcohol abuse and personality disorders accounting for almost three-quarters of this burden. Only 3.3% of the burden from mental disorders is due to mortality, most of which is accounted for by fatal outcomes associated with substance abuse (AIHW 2016).

    References

    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 3. BOD 4. Canberra: AIHW. Available at: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129555176