The mental health of Australians 2

3.1 Service use in the Australian population

Page last updated: May 2009

Overall 11.9% of Australians aged 16-85 years used health services for mental health problems in the previous 12 months. This includes both consultations with health professionals and hospital admissions. A similar proportion of the total population (11.6%) used medications for mental health problems in the previous two weeks prior to the survey.

The mental disorder status of service users is shown in figure 3-1. Of the population using services:

  • Three–fifths (58.7%) of people who used services had a 12-month mental disorder
  • One-fifth (19.8%) had a mental disorder at some point in their lifetime, but did not have symptoms in the previous 12 months and
  • One-fifth (21.5%) did not meet lifetime diagnosis for any of the mental disorders assessed in the survey.
This last group of people who used services, but who did not have a mental disorder, could also have been doing so for legitimate reasons. People seek help at times of crisis. People also seek help with mental health problems to prevent their escalation or where they are not at a level at which they would be diagnosed with a mental disorder. Others will be receiving treatment for mental disorders not included in the survey, such as the psychotic illnesses.

Figure 3-1: Proportion of people using services for mental health problems in the previous 12 months by mental disorder status

Refer to the following text for a text equivalent of Figure 3-1: Proportion of people using services for mental health problems in the previous 12 months by mental disorder status

Text version of figure 3-1

Proportion of people using services for mental health problems in the previous 12 months by mental disorder status:
  • Mental disorder in the previous 12 months - 58.7%
  • No mental disorder - 21.5%
  • Lifetime mental disorder - 19.8%
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