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).

Small area estimates:

Data by Population Health Area, Local Government Area and Primary Health Network are available for the 2014-15 National Health Survey in the data archive.

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 quintile of socioeconomic disadvantage of area and Remoteness Area


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


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


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