About young people's health

Being healthy as a young person sets you up for a healthy future. Adolescence to young adulthood is an important time for preventing disease and promoting health. Find out more about young people’s health and why it’s so important.

What is young people’s health?

Young people’s health covers people aged between 16 and 24. It refers to everything needed to help you be healthy: 

  • physically 
  • mentally 
  • socially 
  • emotionally. 

This includes: 

  • primary care – such as for illness, injuries, health checks or care for chronic conditions 
  • health prevention and promotion – such as immunisation and information about sexual health, alcohol and drugs 
  • allied health care – such as for psychotherapy or nutrition advice. 

Why young people’s health is important

All young people deserve to reach their potential and be safe, healthy and thriving. Your health when young is important in building strong foundations for future wellbeing. 

Health as a young person can affect your: 

  • educational achievements 
  • lifestyle and relationships 
  • shift from education to the workforce 
  • transition to becoming a parent 
  • connection to the community.

It even affects the future social and economic wellbeing of our community. 

Poor health as a young person increases your risk of chronic health conditions, such as: 

  • mental health issues 
  • cancer 
  • heart disease. 

Poor mental health can also put you at risk of: 

  • self-harm 
  • homelessness 
  • substance use  
  • suicide. 

We want to prevent and reduce chronic health conditions and poor health by helping you adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Health topics for young people

We want you to have the information and tools to look after your health. Find out how we’re supporting you with information about these issues. 


Alcohol is never safe, but you can reduce your risk. Learn about alcohol – when it’s legal, reducing your risk and alcohol and driving.  

Bladder and bowel health  

Bladder and bowel health problems can be an issue for young people. Find out what the main problems are and how to manage them

Dental health 

Dental health is important for general health and wellbeing. Having healthy teeth, mouth and gums means you can eat, drink and speak without pain or discomfort. Poor dental health can affect your nutrition and social life and lead to more costly dental care in the future. Find out more about dental health


Illicit drugs are never safe, and the impact on your health and life can be harmful. Learn about drugs – how they affect you, the laws that apply and how to reduce your risk at parties and events.  


Being up to date with immunisations helps prevent you getting sick from preventable diseases. Some vaccines are provided free under the National Immunisation Program. Find out when to get vaccinated

Mental health and suicide prevention 

Being young can be hard sometimes. Anxiety, depression and other mental health issues can affect young people. Find out about tools to help you look after your mental health and how to get support. 

Palliative care 

Special end-of-life (palliative) care is available for young people and their families. Find out more about finding the right type of palliative care

Smoking, vaping and tobacco 

Smoking tobacco is harmful at any age. Cigarettes contain tobacco, a drug usually breathed in as smoke. The main chemical in tobacco, nicotine, is highly addictive. Nicotine may also be found in e-cigarettes. Young people can become addicted to nicotine very quickly.  Smoking and vaping cause preventable illness and death.  Learn about smoking and vaping – its health risks, what laws apply and tips for saying ‘no’ or quitting. 

Young people’s health in Australia

Young Australians are generally doing well. In 2020–21: 

  • 74.3% aged 15 to 24 considered themselves to be in excellent or very good health. 
  • 61.3% aged 15 to 24 had no chronic health conditions.  
  • 97% aged 15 to 17 had never smoked tobacco. 
  • 83.3% aged 18 to 24 had never smoked tobacco. 
  • 48.2% aged 18 to 24 did not usually consume sugar-sweetened or diet drinks. 

Source: Health conditions and risks, Australian Bureau of Statistics 

While most young Australians are healthy, some have conditions and behaviours that put their health at risk: 

  • 28.1% aged 16 to 17 were overweight or obese in 2017–18. 
  • 46.0% aged 18 to 24 were overweight or obese in 2017–18. 
  • While 1.9% aged 15 to 17 exceeded the adult Australian Alcohol Guidelines in 2020-21, this was 26.3% for 18 to 24 year olds. 
  • 21.7% aged 18 to 24 had vaped at least once and 4.8% regularly did so in 2020–2021. 
  • 27.5% of 15 to 24 years had mental health or behavioural conditions (higher than any other age group) in 2020–21. 
  • 48.3% of 18 to 24 year olds experienced at least one stressor (such as poor mental health, not being able to get a job, loss of a job, and the death of a family member or close friend) in 2020–21. 

Source: Health conditions and risks, Australian Bureau of Statistics 

Find out more about research and data about young people’s health.

COVID-19 and young people

While some effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people are emerging, the full impact is complex and not yet fully understood.

Compared with February 2017, psychological distress worsened in April 2020 for people aged 18 to 24. In April 2021, this had improved but was still higher than in February 2017.

Learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on young people

Finding help and support

Help and support is available. Connect with health services

Date last updated:

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