Data and statistics

When discussing, portraying or reporting on mental ill-health, data and statistics serve a purpose in providing context and insight into the complex nature of mental ill-health.

It is important to note that there are a number of considerations when it comes to using and referencing statistics around mental ill-health.

In order to use data and statistics accurately please:
  • Use caution when comparing numbers between states or population groups
  • Be aware that comparisons with international suicide statistics can be difficult due to differences in coronial reporting, classification of deaths, definitions and time periods
  • Keep statistics within context
  • Be aware that the reliability of statistics can be affected by a number of factors

Key data

  • Each year, approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness
  • It is estimated 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 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 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.

It is important to remember that each of these numbers represent an individual life lost, a life which was valued and will be missed. Mindframe acknowledges the individuals, families, carers, colleagues and communities impacted by suicide each year in Australia.