Key findings from ABS mental health study

·3-min read


*The survey of 5500 people between the ages of 16 to 85 revealed the extent of mental ill-health in Australia. Results were converted into estimates for the rest of the population.

*It's the first time in 15 years a study of this kind has been undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

*The ABS recognised having - or not having - mental ill-health does not define a person.


*One-in-six Australians have experienced suicidal thoughts or behaviours in their lifetime.

*Almost two-in-five people had a been close to someone who had died by or attempted suicide.

*More than two-in-five Australians have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime.

*Just under nine per cent of Australians had ever self harmed in their lifetime.

*In 2020/21 one-in-five people experienced a mental disorder.

*Anxiety was the most common group of mental disorders.

*This was followed by 7.5 per cent of Australians who had an affective disorder.

*Depression was the most common affective disorder.

*People who had experienced homelessness or insecure housing at some time in their life were more likely to have had an affective disorder like depression than people who had not.

*Nearly 45 per cent of people in the LGBTQI community experienced anxiety and three in 10 reported an experience with affective disorder such as depression.


*Almost two-in-five people aged 16 to 24 experienced a mental disorder in 2020/21.

*Almost half of young women had a mental health disorder in that time period compared to just under a third of young men.

*Anxiety disorders were the most common among young people.


*Just over three per cent of Australians had experienced a substance use disorder in their lifetime.

*Males were almost twice as likely as females to have had a 12-month substance use disorder.

*Harmful alcohol use was more common among men than women.


*One-in-20 people had experienced binge eating in their lifetime.

* Women were more than twice as likely as men to have experienced binge eating.

*More than one-in-five people rated their weight or shape as being very important to how they thought about themselves as a person.


*Around one-in-four people aged 16 to 34 years saw a health professional for their mental health, compared with 16.8 per cent of people aged 35 to 64 years and 7.5 per cent of people aged 65 to 85 years.

*More than half of all females saw a professional for their mental health, compared with 37 per cent of all males.

*In 2020/21 more than 15 per cent of people reported feeling lonely in the previous four weeks.

*Three-in-five people took actions to help manage their mental health such as increasing their level of exercise or physical activity.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)

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