The mental health of Australians 2

2.1 Prevalence of mental disorders in the Australian population

Page last updated: May 2009

The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that nearly half (45.5%) of the Australian population aged 16-85 years had experienced an anxiety, affective or substance use disorder at some stage in their lifetime (table 2-1). This is equivalent to almost 7.3 million people.

In the 12 months prior to interview one in five (20.0%) of the population had mental disorders. This is equivalent to almost 3.2 million Australians experiencing mental disorders in the previous 12 months, and many of these will have experienced more than one mental disorder over the 12 month period.

Anxiety disorders were the most common class of mental disorder in the 12 months prior to interview. One in seven (14.4%) Australians had an anxiety disorder in the previous 12 months. One in 16 had an affective disorder (6.2%) and one in 20 had a substance use disorder (5.1%).

Based on these prevalence figures, nearly 1 million people experienced affective disorders, over 2.3 million anxiety disorders and over 800,000 substance use disorders in the previous 12 months.

Table 2-1: Prevalence of lifetime and 12-month mental disorders

DisorderLifetime prevalence
(%)
Lifetime prevalence
Population estimate
12-month prevalence
(%)
12-month prevalence
Population estimate
Affective disorders
15.0
2,405,000
6.2
996,000
Anxiety disorders
26.3
4,205,000
14.4
2,303,000
Substance use disorders
24.7
3,960,000
5.1
820,000
Any mental disorder
45.5
7,287,000
20.0
3,198,000

Note: Totals are lower than the sum of disorders as people may have had more than one class of mental disorder in the 12 months.