Census reveals 2.2 million Australians have been diagnosed with mental illness

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

According to the latest census results, approximately one in 12 Australians has been diagnosed with a mental illness.

According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, more than 8 million Australians suffer from long-term health conditions, of which 2.2 million suffer from mental illness, in particular.

The 2021 census was the first time we collected information on diagnosed medical conditions, with Australians being 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 issues were the most common response, followed by arthritis (2.1 million) and asthma (2.06 million). However, it should be emphasized that mental illnesses are not a single diagnosis, so a blanket answer is probably not the best way to ascertain the mood of the population.

The figure matches data we already had, which showed calls for mental health resources hit an all-time high last year amid the COVID pandemic and ensuing lockdowns.

ABS statistician Dr David Gruen said the census results on long-term health issues will be key to informing policy and funding for care.

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

“This is essential data to inform planning and service delivery decisions about how treatment and care is delivered to all Australians.”

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

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

“There are a lot of relationship breakups and life-altering issues. It’s a little different from what we were seeing during the shutdowns, when many people were showing a real sense of panic and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

As expected, the number of people with long-term health conditions increased with age, with 62.9% of people over 65 reporting at least one condition, while only one in five between the ages of 15 and 35 reported one.

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