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Prevalence and impact of mental illness Print this page

1 in 7 children and adolescents

Mental health is a key component of overall health and wellbeing (WHO 2021). A mental illness can be defined as ‘a clinically diagnosable disorder that significantly interferes with a person's cognitive, emotional or social abilities' (COAG Health Council 2017). However, a person does not need to meet the criteria for a mental illness or mental disorder to be negatively affected by their mental health (COAG Health Council 2017; Slade et al. 2009).

On this page, the terms ‘mental illness' and ‘mental disorder' are both used to describe a range of mental health and behavioural disorders, which can vary in both severity and duration.

There are multiple surveys which collect information on the extent of mental illness in the Australian population. This page collates evidence on the prevalence and impact of mental illness. For more information about specific surveys, refer to data sources.

How many Australians have experienced mental illness?

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