Key facts

  • Each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness
  • It is estimated that about 45% of Australians may experience mental illness at some point in their lives
  • Mental illnesses are the third leading cause of disability burden in Australia, accounting for an estimated 27% of the total years lost due to disability
  • About 4% of people will experience a major depressive episode in a 12-month period, with 5% of women and 3% of men affected
  • Anxiety affects over 2 million Australians each year, with approximately 14% of the population experiencing anxiety
  • About 3% of Australians are affected by psychotic illnesses, such as schizophrenia
  • About 4% of the population is affected by an eating disorder at any one time
  • Prevalence of mental illness decreases with age, with prevalence greatest among 18-24 year olds
  • People unemployed or not in the paid workforce generally have higher rates of mental illness that people who are employed
  • Limited research suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples may experience higher levels of psychological distress
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex people experience higher levels of psychological distress than other Australians, which can increase their risk of mental illness and suicide
  • In Australia, the prevalence of mental or behavioural disorders among people born overseas appears to be similar to those born in Australia, but research is very limited
  • Limited research suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience mental disorders at least as often as other Australians
  • In Australia, the prevalence of mental or behavioural disorders among people born overseas is similar to those born in Australia
  • Many violent people have no history of mental disorder and most people with mental illness (90%) have no history of violence.

Related resource

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Prevention First

Prevention First is a plain language document that provides a new national framework for strategic action to prevent mental ill-health and promote mental health and wellbeing.

Related program

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Mindframe National Media Initiative

Mindframe encourages the responsible, accurate and sensitive representation of mental illness and suicide in the Australian mass media by collaborating with media and various sectors that work with the media. 

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