Australian Bureau of Statistics – National Mental Health & Wellbeing Survey

Share This

Hot off the press!! The latest data set for the National Mental Health and Wellbeing survey has been released for the first time since 2007. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the long-awaited study which now gives us 40 years of consistent data regarding mental ill-health across australia.

5554 people took part in this study between 2020-2021, with the study focusing on mental disorders, suicidal behaviours and information on help seeking behaviours and service use.

The study showed that 8.6 million people had experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life, compared to 7.3 million people in 2007. This equates to 43.7%! Yes you read that right… nearly one in two of us will have a diagnosable mental illness at some point across our lives.

1 in 5 Australians experienced a mental disorder in the past 12 months, which is consistent with the 2007 data. Anxiety remains the most common disorder, and most common in young people aged 16 – 24.

Young People

The study depicts a worrying picture of the mental health of young people, and experts suggest that this could be due to the effects of the 2020 Covid pandemic. With two years of stress, worry and uncertainty taking their toll.

  • A startling 40% of young people (16-24) have experienced poor mental health, compared to 26.4% in 2007.

Men and Women

There was an interesting comparison between men and women, as they both seem to suffer with mental ill-health differently.

  • Women being the most likely to experience mental ill-health compared to men (21% of females compared to 12.4% of males)
  • Men were twice as likely to experience a substance use disorder, and women were more than twice as likely than men to experience binge eating disorders.
  • Women were more likely to self harm and experience suicidal tendencies in their lifetime over men.


  • Australians that identified themselves as part of the LGBTQI+ community, had higher rates of mental illness, with 45% of them suffering with anxiety.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviours

  • 16.7% of Australians experienced suicidal behaviours
  • Two in five Australians have had someone close to them attempt suicide or die by suicide in their lifetime.
  • The research shows the largest increase in suicide rates can occur 2-3 years after a disaster, like a global pandemic, as the initial care and support start to decrease

Use of services

  • Out of the 4.2 million people who experienced a mental disorder in 20-21, , 47.1% got help from a health professional for their mental health, in comparison to 35% in 2007
  • 54.7% of all females who experienced a mental disorder in 20/21 saw a health professional for their mental health, compared to 37% of males
  • 7.7% of people aged 16-34 years who experienced a mental disorder in the past 12 months saw a health professional for their mental health. This is an increase from 2007, with 23.3%.

What does all of this data tell us?

Now more than ever, we need to focus on our mental health, check in with others and seek further support if necessary.

The Australian government has already started making way by pouring large investments into the mental health sector. They have developed a free mental health check tool to encourage people to have a conversation with their GP, with the aim of catching their deteriorating mental health sooner.

They have also granted $200 million to help support student wellbeing post pandemic, along with $44 million to improve and expand headspace services across Australia.

To read more in depth statistics click here