New Census Data Reveals 1 In 12 Australians Have Been Diagnosed With Some Form Of Mental Illness

Over two million Australians have been diagnosed with at least one mental illness, according to the census.

mental health census

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Roughly one in 12 Australians has been diagnosed with a mental illness, according to findings from the latest census.

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, more than 8 million Australians suffer from long-term health conditions, with 2.2 million of those suffering from a mental illness, specifically.

The 2021 census was the first time we’ve collected information on diagnosed medical conditions, with Australians asked to disclose whether they had nine different conditions including: arthritis, diabetes, heart attack, asthma, lung or kidney disease, stroke, cancer and mental health.

Mental health conditions were the most common answer, followed by arthritis (2.1 million) and asthma (2.06 million). However, it must be stressed that mental illnesses are not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis, so an all-encompassing answer probably isn’t the best way to vibe check the population.

The figure aligns with data we already had, which showed that calls for mental health resources reached an all-time high last year amid the COVID pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

ABS statistician Dr David Gruen said the census’ findings on long-term health conditions will be pivotal in informing policy and funding regarding care.

“For the first time, we have data on long-term health conditions across the whole population,” said Gruen.

“This is critical data to inform planning and service delivery decisions about how treatment and care is provided for all Australians.”

Jayashri Kulkarni, a professor of psychiatry at Alfred Health and Monash University told the SMH that situational factors like relationship breakdowns and lockdowns impacted mental health.

“The depression and anxiety disorders in particular seem to have really escalated lately,” she said.

“There are a lot of relationship breakdowns and life-changing issues happening. It is a slightly different ilk to what we were seeing during lockdowns, when many people were presenting with a real sense of panic and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

As is to be expected, the amount of people suffering from long-term health conditions increased with age, with 62.9 percent of people over 65 reporting at least one condition, while only one in five people aged 15-35 reported one.