The Mental Health Commission is asked to provide information and statistics on a range of subjects related to mental health and wellbeing, alcohol and other drugs, by the media.
Below is a selection of the key statistics that may be of interest to journalists:
One in five Australians aged 16 to 85 years experience mental health issues in any given year (i.e. one of the common forms of mental illness - anxiety, affective or mood disorders, and substance use disorders)
Impact on community
For Australia, Mental and substance use disorders were estimated to be responsible for 12% of the total burden of disease in 2015, placing it fourth as a broad disease group after Cancer (18%), Cardiovascular diseases (14%) and Musculoskeletal conditions (13%) (AIHW 2019).
In terms of the non-fatal burden of disease, which is a measure of the number of years of ’healthy’ life lost due to living with a disability, Mental and substance use disorders were the second largest contributor (23%) of the non-fatal burden of disease in Australia, behind Musculoskeletal conditions (25%) (AIHW 2019).
(Source: Australian Burden of Disease Study 2015)
Tragically, in Western Australia in 2018:
- There were 383 registered deaths by suicide, representing 2.6% of total deaths state-wide and 12.6% of all suicide deaths in Australia.
- 285 were males and 98 females.
- 39 were Aboriginal
- This represents a decrease in the number of registered suicides; 383 compared to 409 in 2017.
- Despite this decrease, our state continues to have one of the highest rates of suicide in the country. The rate of 14.7 per 100,000 persons in 2018 places Western Australia as third worst amongst all states and territories, and above the National average (which was 12.1 deaths per 100,000 people).
Between 2014 and 2018, Western Australia had the:
- Highest age-standardised rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (37.9 deaths per 100,000 people). This was considerably higher than the national average for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over this period (23. 7 deaths per 100,000 people); and
- Second highest age-standardised rate of suicide among children aged 5 to 17 years (3.1 deaths per 100,000 people). This was higher than the national average for children aged 5 to 17 over this period (2.4 deaths per 100,000 people).
In 2018, across Australia, 3,046 people died from intentional self-harm (suicide).
- Of these, 2,320 were by males and 726 by females.
- The rate of suicide was 12.1 deaths per 100,000 people, a decrease from 12.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017;
- Suicide was the 14th leading cause of death for all Australians and the 5th leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- The rate of suicide among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia is nearly double (1.9 times) the rate for non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- There were 100 recorded child suicide deaths and suicide remained the leading cause of death among Australian children;
- The suicide rate among children aged 5 to 17 years was 2.5 deaths per 100,000 people;
- More than half of all suicide deaths (54.8%) occurred between the ages of 30 and 59 years and suicide was the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 44 years;
- Males aged 85 years and over had the highest rate of suicide across all age by gender cohorts (32.9 deaths per 100,000 people), followed by males aged 45 to 54 years (27.5 deaths per 100,000 people);
- Mood disorders, including depression, were the most commonly mentioned co-morbidity across all suicide deaths (mood disorders were present in 43.9% of these deaths);
- Problems related to substance use were present in over one quarter of suicide deaths (29.4%);
- There were 1,740 registered drug-induced deaths and opioid drugs were found to have contributed to 1,123 (64.5%) of these deaths; and
- The rate of opioid-induced deaths was slightly lower than that recorded in 2017 (4.6 deaths compared to 4.8 deaths per 100,000 people).
(Source: ABS Causes of Death, Australia, 2018)
Alcohol and other drugs
The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey states, of Western Australians aged 14 years and older:
- Most people in WA drank alcohol at levels that did not exceed the lifetime risk and single occasion risk guidelines for reducing health risks from alcohol. The proportion of people exceeding these guidelines (17.2% for lifetime harm and 26% for single occasion risk) was similar to 2016, but declined since 2007.
- 11.9% smoked tobacco
- 11.2% used cannabis (down from 11.6% in 2016)
- 2.9% used ecstasy (down from 3.2%)
- 2.4% used cocaine (up from 1.6% - but still substantially below the national average of 4.2%)
- 2.1% used meth/amphetamine (down from 2.7% - still higher than the national average which is 1.3%)
- 1.7% used pharmaceuticals for non medical purposes (down slightly from 1.8%)
- 15.6% of Western Australians over 14 reported recently using an illicit drug.
- 8% of Aboriginal adults (over 18) in WA reported high levels of psychological distress in their lives (in 2012–2013).
- The proportion of Aboriginal people that consume alcohol at levels that exceed lifetime risk guidelines reduced from 19% in 2008 to 15% in 2014–15.
- Cannabis (or Gunja) was the most commonly reported illicit drug used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia in the last 12 months at 19%. For young Aboriginal people aged 15-24, over 5 in 8 (65% or 26,300) reported using cannabis related drugs.
- 39 Aboriginal people died by suicide in WA in 2018.
- The number of Aboriginal people placed on both involuntary treatment orders (8.4%) or community treatment orders (9.6%) are considerably higher than the proportion of Aboriginal people living in Western Australia (3.9%).
 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2013, ABS
 Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia 2018, AIHW
 Including marijuana, hashish or cannabis resin, Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia 2018, AIHW
 MHAS Annual Report 2018-19
456,912 people were prescribed mental health related medication in WA in 2018-19 (17.5% of the WA population).
- Of those, 40,217 were prescribed by psychiatrists, 419,433 by GPS and with others by GPS and 37,736 by non-psychiatric specialists.
- 345,310 were prescribed for anti-depressants, 42,055 for anti-psychotics
- There were 4.073 million prescriptions in WA
2.4% of WA’s population received clinical mental health care (estimated 62,400 people) in 2017-18
- This is higher than the national average of 1.9% and representing an average annual change in WA of 2.7% since 2013-14.
- 3.9% of people aged 15 to 24 received clinical mental health care in WA in 2017-18, representing an average annual change in WA of 5.3% since 2013-14.
(Source: AIHW Mental Health Services in Australia online report - Prescriptions Table PBS.2 and Indicators Table KPI.8.1, KPI.8.2)
There were 6,319 young people seen by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in 2018-19. This figure was 5,535 the year before (17-18) and 5,802 the year before that (16-17).
In January 2020, there were 1,421 mental health inpatient admissions to WA hospitals.
- 43% of those were admitted via an Emergency Department.
60,629 people were treated by community mental health services in WA in 2017-18.
- There were 918,080 service contacts, of which 154,851 (28.6%) were for a principal diagnosis of schizophrenia, 46,866 for a depressive episode, 40,061 for bipolar affective disorders, 38,797 for specific personality disorders, 40,717 for reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorders and 13,508 for an eating disorder.
(Source: AIHW Mental Health Services in Australia online report - Community Mental Health Services Table CMHC.1)
- There were 314 psychiatrists, 2,614 mental health nurses and 2,770 psychologists in WA.
There are currently:
- 34 licensed private psychiatric hostels in WA. (Department of Health Licencing and Accreditation Unit)
- 222 listed organisations delivering 586 mental health, alcohol and other drug services across WA. (Mental Health Commission's My Services directory, 21 June 2020)
These other websites provide statistical reports from various government agencies:
- Australian Bureau of Statistics - Your Health and Wellbeing Survey, 2007
- Australian Bureau of Statistics - National Health Survey (includes Psychological Distress and Mental and Behavioural Conditions data), 2014-15)
- Australian Bureau of Statistics - Causes of Death data (includes Intentional Self-Harm - Suicide)
- Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (Young Minds Matter Survey)
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – National Drug Strategy Household Survey
- Illicit Drug Data Report
- National Psychosis Survey 2010 (People living with psychotic illness 2010) - Australian Government Department of Health)
- National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program
- Australian School Students National Alcohol and Drug Survey (by the Cancer Council Victoria's Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer for the Australian Government Department of Health and the National Drug Strategy
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – National Minimum Data Set
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - Mental Health Services in Australia
- Department of Health - Admitted Patient Activity Summary (choose speciality: Mental Health)
- Department of Health - Hospital Activity and Mental Health Beds
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - Opioid pharmacotherapy statistics
- Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, WA
- Australian Institute of Criminology - Drug use among police detainees, 2018
- Western Australia Police - Crime Statistics
- National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW
- Brain and Mind Centre, child development, youth mental health and brain ageing, University of Sydney
- Centre for Clinical Reseach in Neuropsychiatry, UWA
- Centre for Mental Health, population level research, University of Melbourne
- Centre for Mental Health Research, Research School of Population Health, ANU
- Mental Health, Curtin University
- Neuroscience Research Australia
- Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research
- Young Lives Matter - UWA