The second National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHWB2) found that one in five (20.0%) or 3.2 million Australians aged 16-85 years had a mental disorder in the previous 12 months (figure 2). This is consistent with the findings of the first National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHWB) some ten years later.

The NSMHWB2 also determined the lifetime prevalence of mental disorders, that is if people had experienced symptoms of sufficient severity and duration at any point in their lifetime that would mean that if they saw a health professional they might be diagnosed with a mental disorder according to the detailed diagnostic criteria of the specific disorders as detailed in the standard diagnostic classification systems (ICD-10 and DSM IV).

Almost half of the Australian population (45.5%) aged 16-85 years were found to have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their lifetime (table 1).

Anxiety disorders were the most prevalent 12-month mental disorders with 14.4% of the population being assessed as having these, compared with 6.2% with affective disorders.

Although substance use disorders had the lowest 12-month prevalence (5.1%), across the lifetime around one quarter (24.7%) of people were assessed as having met the diagnostic criteria for these disorders (table 1).

Severity

Age and sex profile

Other demographic characteristics

Figure 2: Prevalence of 12-month mental disorders by disorder class and sex

Refer to the following table for a text equivalent of figure 2: Prevalence of 12-month mental disorders by disorder class and sex

Source: National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2007

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Text version of Figure 2

Males
Prevalence
Females
Prevalence
Persons
Prevalence
Affective disorders
5.3
7.1
6.2
Anxiety disorders
10.8
17.9
14.4
Substance use disorders
7
3.3
5.1
Any 12 month mental disorder
17.6
22.3
20

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

Lifetime prevalence
Proportion (%)
Lifetime prevalence
Population estimate
12-month prevalence
Proportion (%)
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
3,198,000

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

Source: National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing 2007