A mental illness is a clinically diagnosable disorder that impairs an individuals’ cognitive, emotional and/or social abilities1. There are various types and severities of mental illnesses.
In a large-scale survey conducted in 2015, 13.9% of Australian children aged between 4 and 17 were assessed as having had a mental health disorder in the last 12 months2. The most common mental illnesses in children and adolescents were ADHD, anxiety disorders, major depressive disorder and conduct disorders2. These illnesses place a significant personal burden on individuals in this age group as well as the health system in general. The rates of mental illness in this age group should also be understood as an important indicator of future health and demand for services because various studies have shown that many adults with mental illnesses had their first onset of symptoms in childhood.
Mental health is related to a range of social factors such as economic disadvantage, poor housing, a lack of social support and access to health services2. As such, understanding the proportion of mental illness in young people by geographical area can be utilised to ensure policy and services are meeting the needs of young people in their communities. Examining proportions of mental illness alongside other demographic factors (e.g. unemployment) for certain geographic areas can help policy makers and providers understand where mental illness in young people could be better addressed.
- Australian Government: Department of Health [Internet]. 1.4 - National Mental Health Plan 2003-2008. 2005 [cited 2018 Jun 4]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-n-infopri2-toc~mental-pubs-n-infopri2-pt1~mental-pubs-n-infopri2-pt1-4
- Australian Bureau of Statistics [Internet]. Canberra ACT. 4326.0 - National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results. 2007 [cited 2018 Jun 4]. Available from: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4326.0
Mental Health Information System, Hospital Morbidity Data Collection, Emergency Department Data Collection
Number of mental illness diagnoses from population aged 0-18 years
Population aged 0-18 years
Unit of Measure
Per 10,000 population
SA2, SA3, LGA
Areas with count values 1 to 4 and where population is less than 50 have been suppressed
Emergency Department data only available from 2002 onwards.
Includes public and private inpatient records and public outpatient records only. Private outpatient and GP information not included. Untreated/undiagnosed mental illness also not captured.
Mental illness diagnoses were identified using the following ICD classification codes: