Awareness: Mental Health Facts
Hone your Awareness
- 15% of the world’s population (1.1 billion people) had a mental illness in 2016.
- It is expected that 45% of us will experience a mental illness in our lifetimes.
- 20% of Australians were experiencing a current and chronic mental health or behavioural condition prior to Covid-19. The figures are expected to rise significantly.
- Current treatment options are inadequate: typical treatments work for only about 35% of people with mental illness, and even when they do, most continue to experience some symptoms, and most relapse within the first year or two after treatment stops.
- In Australia, mental illness is the leading cause of non-fatal disease burden, and the third leading cause of total disease burden.
- The direct cost of mental illness in Australia is at least $60 billion annually with indirect costs amounting to $180 billion annually, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Well-designed clinical trials with psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy have produced impressive results, demonstrating their potential to be a game-changer for mental health treatment.
Get real with the current state of mental health in Australia and around the world.
Global mental illness - prevalence and burden
Share of population with mental health and substance use disorders, 2016
Australia mental illness - prevalence and burden
In 2017-18, one in five (4.8 million) Australians aged 16 to 85 had a current and chronic mental health or behavioural condition[vi]. This number has been steadily increasing, up nearly 3% from the 2014-15 National Health Survey. At least 45%[vii] of Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime[viii].
The most common mental illnesses in Australia are depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders (often occurring together). In a single year, 13% of Australians will be diagnosed with an anxiety-related condition (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia), 10% with a depression-related condition[vi], and over 5% of Australian adults generally[ix], and 13% of people aged 16-24, will be diagnosed with a substance use disorder[x]. Diagnoses aside, in 2017-18, 13% (2.4 million) of Australians reported high or very high levels of psychosocial distress over the past 4 weeks alone[vi].
Mental illness in Australia – Harms
In 2011, mental illness was responsible for 12% of the total disease burden in Australia (years of life lost and years of life lived with disability, combined), behind only cancer and cardiovascular disease[xi]. When considering only years lived with disability (non-fatal disease burden), mental illness was the leading cause.
An estimated 200 Australians attempt to take their life each day[xii], and the suicide rate in Australia has been steadily on the rise over the past decade. Suicide is the 13th leading cause of death – over 3,000 Australians take their life each year, or 8-9 people each day[xiii]. The more prevalent causes of death are attributable to factors largely associated with old age, with median ages of death for these causes typically in the 80s – the median age for suicide is 45 years. Mood disorders (including depression and anxiety) are the leading cause of suicide, accounting for 43% of Australian suicides in 2017-18[xiii].
Mental Illness in Australia – Costs
Mental Illness Treatment
To date, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy research has shown early yet strong clinical results, particularly for disorders of depression, anxiety, addiction, and obsession. Psychedelics and MDMA are incredibly safe compared to other substances. MDMA-assisted psychotherapy (not a classical psychedelic, but associated with various ‘psychedelic effects’ and often discussed among the classical psychedelics) has shown promise for treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Psychedelics and MDMA are incredibly safe compared to other substances (See figure 4).
For information about psychedelic assisted therapies, please see our page on this site.
- Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network. Global Burden of Disease Study 2016
- Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
- Whitaker, R. (2010). Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets. Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America New York: Crown Publishers.
- Vos, T., Barber, R. M., Bell, B., Bertozzi-Villa, A., Biryukov, S., Bolliger, I., … & Duan, L. (2015). Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. The Lancet, 386(9995), 743-800.
- Vigo, D., Thornicroft, G., & Atun, R. (2016). Estimating the true global burden of mental illness. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(2), 171-178.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, National Health Survey First Results, cat. no. 4364.0.55.001, ABS, Canberra.
- A likely underestimation due to it being reported over 10 years ago.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007, National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, cat. no. 4326.0, ABS, Canberra.
- AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2011. Young Australians: their health and wellbeing 2011. Cat. no. PHE 140 Canberra: AIHW
- AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2016. Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. Australian Burden of Disease Study series no. 3. Cat. No. BOD 4. Canberra: AIHW.
- The Australian Senate. (2010). The Hidden Toll: Suicide in Australia Report of the Senate Community Affairs References Committee. Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Causes of Death, Australia, cat. no. 3303.0, ABS, Canberra.
- Medibank Private Limited and Nous Group. (2013). The Case for Mental Health Reform in Australia: A Review of Expenditure and System Design.
- Whiteford HA, Buckingham WJ, Harris MG, Burgess PM, Pirkis JE, Barendregt JJ and Hall WD 2014. Estimating treatment rates for mental disorders in Australia. Australian Health Review 38(1):80–5
- APA. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Revised (DSM-IV-TR). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Belsher, G., & Costello, C. G. (1988). Relapse after recovery from unipolar depression: a critical review. Psychological bulletin, 104(1), 84.
- Hollon, S. D., Thase, M. E., & Markowitz, J. C. (2002). Treatment and prevention of depression. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 3(2), 39-77.
- Judd, L. L. (1997). The clinical course of unipolar major depressive disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54(11), 989.
- Mueller, T. I., Leon, A. C., Keller, M. B., Solomon, D. A., Endicott, J., Coryell, W., . . . Maser, J. D. (1999). Recurrence after recovery from major depressive disorder during 15 years of observational follow-up. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156(7), 1000-1006.