Estimated population, aged 18 years and over, with mental and behavioural problems and heart, stroke and vascular disease, 2014–15


Policy context:  There is a well-defined link between severe mental illness and cardiovascular disease. People with clinical depression, who are socially isolated or who have a lack of quality social support are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The risk of cardiovascular disease is 2-3 times higher for people with minor depression and 3-5 times higher for those with major depression [1]. In 2014–15, over 300,000, or 1.8%, of Australians aged 18 years and over had mental and behavioural problems and cardiovascular disease.


  1. Harris, B, Duggan, M, Batterham, P, Bartlem, K, Clinton-McHarg, T, Dunbar, J, Fehily, C, Lawrence, D, Morgan, M, Rosenbaum, S 2018 Australia's Mental and Physical Health Tracker: Background Paper, Australian Health Policy Collaboration issues paper no. 2018-02, Melbourne, AHPC.

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

In the NHS, respondents aged 18 years and over were asked if they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had one or more of the following heart, stroke and vascular diseases (also referred to cardiovascular disease) and it was current and long-term at the time of the interview:

  • angina, heart attack and other ischaemic heart diseases;
  • stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases;
  • oedema;
  • heart failure;
  • diseases of the arteries, arterioles and capillaries.

A current and long-term condition is defined as a condition that is current and has lasted, or is expected to last, for 6 months or more and was current at the time of the interview.

For the first time in 2014–15, persons who reported having ischaemic heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases that were not current and long-term at the time of interview were also included. It is also worth noting that a transient ischaemic attack or "mini-stroke" was included on the interviewers prompt card in the 2014–15 NHS and coded to 'other cerebrovascular diseases'. This has seen an increased number of 'other cerebrovascular diseases' from 4,900 people in 2011–12 to 171,200 people in 2014–15 and a decrease in the number of people in 'stroke' from 240,000 in 2011–12 to 172,300 people in 2014–15. For more information, refer to the National Health Survey: First results, 2014–15, Explanatory Notes.

Mental and behavioural problems data refer to persons aged 18 years and over 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-term:

  • 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.

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 and Primary Health Network


Numerator:  Estimated number of people aged 18 years and over with mental and behavioural problems as a current and long-term condition with one or more heart, stroke and vascular diseases


Denominator:  Population aged 18 years and over


Detail of analysis:  Indirectly age-standardised rate per 100 population (aged 18 years and over); and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard


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


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