Estimated population, aged 16 to 64 years, with mental and behavioural problems who were in employment, 2014–15


Policy context:  Employment plays a critical role in the life and recovery of people with experience of mental illness; and offers an opportunity to improve levels of confidence, social status and identity, and in some cases, clinical improvement [1]. However, accessing and maintaining employment can be difficult, especially without supportive work environments; and people with experience of mental illness are more likely to be unemployed when they have lower education levels, and where they also suffer from additional disabilities [1], [2].


  1. Duncan C, Peterson D. The employment experiences of people with experience of mental illness: literature review. Auckland: Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, 2007.
  2. Jensen J et al. Disability and work participation in New Zealand: outcomes relating to paid employment and benefit receipt. Wellington: Ministry of Social Development, 2005.

Notes:  In the absence of data from administrative data sets, estimates are provided for certain chronic diseases and conditions from the 2014–15 National Health Survey (NHS), conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Estimates at the PHA level are modelled estimates produced by the ABS, as described below (estimates at the LGA and PHN level were derived from the PHA estimates).

Users of these modelled estimates should note that they do not represent data collected in administrative or other data sets. As such, they should be used with caution, and treated as indicative of the likely social dimensions present in an area with these demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

The numbers are estimates for an area, not measured events as are, for example, death statistics. As such, they should be viewed as a tool that, when used in conjunction with local area knowledge and taking into consideration the prediction reliability, can provide useful information that can assist with decision making for small geographic regions. Of particular note is that the true value of the published estimates is also likely to vary within a range of values as shown by the upper and lower limits published in the data (xls) and viewable in the bar chart in the single map atlases.

What the modelled estimates do achieve, however, is to summarise the various demographic, socioeconomic and administrative information available for an area in a way that indicates the expected level of each health indicator for an area with those characteristics. In the absence of accurate, localised information about the health indicator, such predictions can usefully contribute to policy and program development, service planning and other decision-making processes that require an indication of the geographic distribution of the health indicator.

The survey response rate of around 85% provides a high level of coverage across the population; however, the response rate among some groups is lower than among other groups, e.g., those living in the most disadvantaged areas have a lower response rate than those living in less disadvantaged areas. Although the sample includes the majority of people living in households in private dwellings, it excludes those living in the most remote areas of Australia; whereas these areas comprise less than 3% of the total population, Aboriginal people comprise up to one third of the population in these areas. This and other limitations of the method mean that estimates have not been published for PHAs with populations under 1,000, or with a high proportion of their population in:

  1. non-private dwellings (hospitals, gaols, nursing homes - and also excludes members of the armed forces);
  2. in Very Remote areas;
  3. in discrete Aboriginal communities; and
  4. where the relative root mean square errors (RRMSEs) on the estimates was 1 or more (estimate replaced with ≠)


  1. Estimates with RRMSEs from 0.25 and to 0.50 have been marked (~) to indicate that they should be used with caution; and those greater than 0.50 but less than 1 are marked (~~) to indicate that the estimate is considered too unreliable for general use.
  2. For the PHN data, differences between the PHN totals and the sum of LGAs within PHNs result from the use of different concordances.

Indicator detail

Employed persons data were persons aged 16 to 64 years who reported working in the previous week or was absent from a job during that week. These data exclude:

  • unpaid volunteers;
  • people who usually work less than 1 hour per week;
  • people who were away from work on workers compensation; and
  • people who were not, or were unsure, if they were returning to work for their employer.
Mental and behavioural problems data refer to persons aged 16 to 64 years who self-reported ever being told by a doctor or nurse that they had one or more of the following mental and behavioural problems, that were considered current and long:
  • anxiety-related conditions (such as anxiety disorders/ feeling anxious, nervous or tense);
  • mood (affective) disorders (such as depression/ feeling depressed);
  • alcohol and drug problems;
  • problems of psychological development;
  • behavioural, cognitive and emotional problems with usual onset in childhood/adolescence;
  • other mental and behavioural problems.

A current and long-term condition is defined as a medical condition that has lasted or expected to last six months or more and was current at the time of the interview.

In the 2014–15 National Health Survey, a module specifically dedicated to mental and behavioural conditions was included to collect information on cognitive, organic and behavioural conditions. Previously mental and behavioural conditions were collected in a module that included a wide range of long-term health conditions. The number of persons who reported having a mental and behavioural condition in 2014–15 has increased since the 2011–12 NHS, potentially due to the greater prominence of mental and behavioural conditions in the new module. Data on mental and behavioural conditions for 2014–15 are therefore not comparable with data in previous National Health Surveys. For more information refer to the explanatory notes in the ABS National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15 (cat. no. 4364.0.55.001).


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas


Numerator:  Estimated number of people aged 16 to 64 years with mental and behavioural problems as a current and long-term condition and were employed


Denominator:  Population aged 16 to 64 years


Detail of analysis:  Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100 population (aged 16 to 64 years); and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard



PHA, LGA & PHN: Compiled by PHIDU based on modelled estimates from the 2014–15 National Health Survey, ABS (unpublished).

Quintiles & Remoteness: Compiled by PHIDU based on direct estimates from the 2014–15 National Health Survey, ABS Survey TableBuilder.


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