This reported investigated rates of psychological distress experienced by young people in Australia who are aged 15-19. It also examined the concerns, general wellbeing and help-seeking behaviours of the close to 27,000 participants of the 2018 Youth Survey aged 15-19, including those who are experiencing psychological distress – highlighting the vital role that friends, parents, services, schools and the internet play as sources of help for young people who are struggling with their mental health.
- Close to one in four young people met the criteria for experiencing psychological distress – a substantial increase over the past seven years (rising by 5.5% from 18.7% in 2012 to 24.2% in 2018).
- In 2018, more than three in ten (31.9%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people met the criteria for psychological distress, compared to 23.9% for non-Indigenous young people.
- Across seven years, females were twice as likely as males to experience psychological distress. The increase in psychological distress has also been far more marked among females (from 22.5% in 2012 to 30.0% in 2018, compared to a rise from 12.7% to 15.6% for males).
- Stigma and embarrassment, fear and a lack of support were the three most commonly cited barriers that prevent young people from seeking help.
- The top issues of personal concern for young Australians experiencing psychological distress were coping with stress, mental health and school or study problems. There was also a notably high level of concern about other issues including body image, suicide, family conflict and bullying/emotional abuse.
- Almost four times the proportion of young people with psychological distress reported concerns about suicide (35.6% compared with 9.4% of respondents without psychological distress).
- Young people experiencing psychological distress reported they would go to friend/s, parent/s or guardian/s and the internet as their top three sources of help. This is compared to friend/s, parent/s or guardian/s and a relative/family friend for those without psychological distress.