Nationwide data reveals 79-year-olds have the best mental health

Australians with the lowest rate of mental health conditions are in their late 70s.

Nationwide data reveals 79-year-olds have the best mental health

New data from research company Roy Morgan shows over 7.9 million Australians aged over 14 now suffer from a mental health condition.

“Roy Morgan’s extensive research into the health of Australians shows mental health conditions are increasing significantly across the spectrum, up over 2.5 million from a decade ago” said Roy Morgan chief Michelle Levine.

Perhaps surprisingly though, those in their 70s have the best mental health, according to the latest Roy Morgan Single Source survey on health research which is based on a program spanning more than a decade and health data from over 50,000 Australians.

“A deep dive into the data shows that mental health conditions increase significantly for older teenagers completing their secondary schooling and entering university, or the workplace, for the first time aged under 25 years old. There is a secondary peak for Australians in their 40s when many parents will themselves be living in a household with teenagers and dealing with living expenses including mortgage repayments and expensive secondary school fees,” said Ms Levine.

“The good news is that once Australians hit their 50s rates of mental health conditions decline rapidly and stress in particular is ‘lifted off the shoulders’ of Australians in their 50s and 60s.

“Our decade long research shows that rates of mental health conditions are lowest for Australians in their mid-late 70s with over 80 per cent of Australians aged 74-79 years old reporting ‘no’ mental health conditions at all – a higher rate than any other age group.”

The most common mental health conditions recorded were stress which is experienced by 5.8 million Australians (28 per cent), anxiety suffered by over 4.3 million (21.1 per cent), depression which afflicts over 3.3 million (16.1 per cent) and the nearly 1.3 million (6.2 per cent) who have panic attacks.

The largest raw increase was for anxiety which has more than doubled since 2011 with an increase of nearly 2.3 million to over 4.3 million Australians – an increase of 108.3 per cent.

Stress increased by 1.6 million (38.2 per cent), depression increased by almost one million (41.2 per cent) and panic attacks were up by over half a million (73.7 per cent).

Although from a smaller base there were even bigger percentage increases for autism (527 per cent), attention deficit disorder (141.3 per cent), schizophrenia (128.8 per cent) and obsessive compulsive disorder (128.3 per cent).

The increases have occurred across the age range, and are steepest among younger Australians, but are still a lingering problem for significantly more than they were 10 years ago for Australians in their 40s and 50s, but dip for those aged over 58 years.

Do you feel less stress today than you did 10 years ago? Are you surprised that anxiety levels have skyrocketed in the last decade?

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    COMMENTS

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    Polly Esther
    23rd Aug 2019
    10:17am
    so 79 is now the magic number, whoopie do and how come? it used to be 69 :))
    Hasbeen
    23rd Aug 2019
    12:13pm
    Be4cause I'm 79 of course.
    MICK
    23rd Aug 2019
    11:03am
    We seem have a never ending tirade of mental health issues these days. Everybody seems to have a story.
    I read somewhere in the last year that death is often preceded by 5 YEARS of illness. Apparently the correlation is very sound on this one. I did n't believe it but my mother started to have illnesses beginning 5 years from her death so I now do the sums. Anybody able to corroborate this assertion?
    Jennie
    23rd Aug 2019
    12:47pm
    I guess it depends how you define illness. Do you mean a named illness like MS, cancer, MND, COPD etc? Or the gradual wearing out of the body and mind such as arthritis, osteoporosis, urinary incontinence, cognitive decline etc? My mother in her mid 80s said that her wheels started to fall off once she reached 80. For her it was arthritis, falls, broken head of femur, broken 2nd cervical vertebra then cognitive decline. So this was my second category named above and she lived to be 92 but in a nursing home for the last 18 months of her life.
    heyyybob
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:09pm
    Yes Jennie. I'm 80 and have a few Use By dates starting to take effect ;) Nothing serious at the moment but I'm a realist and am bracing for the inevitable aided by memories of great life experiences and something I've worked at over the last couple of decades - minimising my regrets !! Down to three only and am happy with that.
    MICK
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:29pm
    In my mother's case she had had a couple of cancers over the decades but about 5 years before her demise she started having regular issues of all sorts. Mostly lesser issues.
    In the end her emphysema got her but I hark back to the fact that the signs were emerging some 5 years before. That's why I joined the dots when I heard about the 5 year rule.

    Probably not the best place to post this sort of thing ans apologies to anyone who is alarmed. As with all of us stay positive, eat and live well and hope for the best. None of us will escape the obvious so not worth losing sleep about anyway.
    Mondo
    23rd Aug 2019
    11:16am
    I'm not at all surprised that older Australians are able to cope with stress far better than their younger brethren. Kids have been increasingly molly-coddled since the WW2 and baby-boomer generations, shielded from the realities of childhood and life, not allowed to know about any worrying issues and ferried around by doting patents. Passing our local primary school is like driving through the middle of a 4WD vehicle meeting. Then in their teens and twenties they are released from the cotton-wool hot house environment into the frosty reality of life and they can't cope. Its like putting battery chooks out to free range, they don't even know how to scratch the soil and find food.
    Suze
    23rd Aug 2019
    11:21am
    Spot on Mondo !!!
    ROB
    23rd Aug 2019
    11:27am
    Spot on too from us Mondo
    Gypsy
    23rd Aug 2019
    12:14pm
    Well said Mondo! Now we need to find a fix. I was reading about a school that has a "time out" area. If you cannot cope, you can go into that area & no one is allowed to talk to you. Ye gads!!!!!
    DELboy
    23rd Aug 2019
    12:27pm
    Well said Mondo
    Viking
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:58pm
    Totally agree. We now have a growth in 'experts ' running resilience classes for teenagers. In my view you can't teach resilience, its the result of life long experiences and some hardship that we learn to cope. The solution is to teach parents to let their kids graze their knees and take a few falls. In this way we learn how to avoid trouble, land on our feet or get up from a fall. A good start would be to make a one km.no stopping zone around schools and treat childhood obesity as abuse.
    heyyybob
    23rd Aug 2019
    3:02pm
    By Odin !! I love your suggestion, Viking, for a NO stopping/parking for 1km around schools :) At least kids and/or their parents would get some exercise a day ;)
    ROB
    23rd Aug 2019
    11:23am
    This is so funny. While the "Experts" are scratching their heads they do not appear to realise the we in our mid to late 70s grew up in a time between when a healthy environment (Cleanliness and food) were prominent and medication/vaccinations were not pumped into us as something life saving? The only "take aways" we had was fish and chips or what mum packed for us. Doctors were more concerned with keeping us healthy and did not spend their lives searching through a medication guide. Mass vaccinations were not considered and indeed even from the late 1800s vaccinations were already being realised as not only questionable for effectiveness but also safety. We know this is not a debate on vaccinations but it does appear that those who have kept away from medication and vaccinations do appear the healthiest with a working brain.
    Jennie
    23rd Aug 2019
    12:50pm
    Indeed do not start a debate on vaccinations as you are totally wrong and irresponsible in your remarks about them.
    heyyybob
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:01pm
    Absolutely, Jennie :)
    Tanker
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:16pm
    Rod you simply don't know what you are talking about.
    Tanker
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:16pm
    Rod you simply don't know what you are talking about.
    Sundays
    23rd Aug 2019
    2:17pm
    I remember being mass vaccinated for diphtheria, whooping cough, rubella and polio in the 60s. A good thing too because anyone who has witnessed kids with polio or whooping cough would know what terrible diseases they were.
    Eddy
    23rd Aug 2019
    4:11pm
    Rob, how do you feel about the compulsory chest x-rays for adults to overcome the scourge of TB. In the military I was vaccinated against many diseases not normally provided to the general population, smallpox, cholera, rabies, plague along with the usual ones such as tetanus, diphtheria, polio etc. Some vaccinations did make me very sick for a day nor two but I recovered. For my healthy life I give most credit to the wonder of vaccinations and those small pills to protect me against malaria.
    Triss
    23rd Aug 2019
    4:55pm
    I don’t agree with ROB. I remember 3or 4 kids I’m my school that were in calipers. I was vaccinated as a child and I made sure my daughter was vaccinated for everything.
    Troubadour
    23rd Aug 2019
    6:36pm
    I am in my mid-70's and have a very good working brain - and I had all the
    necessary vaccinations when a child, plus extra ones with working in the medical field for much of my working life. I am thankful for the little pills I had to take to help prevent malaria, when working on the mission field,.
    The only thing I do ponder is the taking of too many antibiotics.
    pedro the swift
    23rd Aug 2019
    11:47am
    Yes Rob , its not a debate on vaccinations.Vaccinations ARE dangerous. They kill all sorts of deadly diseases like smallpox, tuberculosis, measles, yellow fever, polio and a whole lot more.
    It is very likely that this may be the reason that there are more people around to enjoy reaching the age of 75.
    And note , there are even more vaccines available now to stop cancers too. Should we consider these as dangerous and stop developing new vaccines to please people like you?
    Infinityoz
    23rd Aug 2019
    12:25pm
    Haha! Good one pedro the swift, I love it! :)
    heyyybob
    23rd Aug 2019
    12:59pm
    Si, si Pedro !! Agree 100% with your comments :) I've just made it 'over the hump' at 80 thanks, I'm sure, in no small part to my vaccinations ;)
    Colours
    23rd Aug 2019
    12:21pm
    These stats prove absolutely nothing. Those over 60 or so grew up in a time when mental health issues were not discussed, and to admit a problem was considered weakness. You might as well say men have better health because they don't go to the doctor until they're nearly dead.
    Tanker
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:24pm
    A look back to 100 years ago and people were physically tougher because they had to be. They paid the price with poor physical health and shorter life span. Those of us today if transplanted to those days simply wouldn't cope with that lifestyle.
    Transplant those from 100 years ago into todays world and they wouldn't cope mentally. Our lifestyle is all about rush here and rush there with loud noise all round us and lights that are really too bright. That is not to mention the constant barrage of advertising with its pressure to buy buy. We are not active enough and eat too much as well. Overall the mental pressure on us are greater than those back in time.
    We do live longer but the cost is the exposure to greater mental pressures so naturally more mental illness. We do not live what could be described as a "natural" life that our bodies and minds developed over the millenia to cope with.
    Tanker
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:24pm
    A look back to 100 years ago and people were physically tougher because they had to be. They paid the price with poor physical health and shorter life span. Those of us today if transplanted to those days simply wouldn't cope with that lifestyle.
    Transplant those from 100 years ago into todays world and they wouldn't cope mentally. Our lifestyle is all about rush here and rush there with loud noise all round us and lights that are really too bright. That is not to mention the constant barrage of advertising with its pressure to buy buy. We are not active enough and eat too much as well. Overall the mental pressure on us are greater than those back in time.
    We do live longer but the cost is the exposure to greater mental pressures so naturally more mental illness. We do not live what could be described as a "natural" life that our bodies and minds developed over the millenia to cope with.
    pedro the swift
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:49pm
    Mental health!. I have a feeling that the issue of "mental health" is another overblown "moral outrage" . Are we really so mentally vulnerable nowadays that we can't cope? Or is this another way to get people to seek all sorts of expensive treatments?
    We now see children being diagnosed as having "mental" problems and being put on medication. And we don't really know where that will lead.
    Every second kid seems to be autistic or have ADHD or some other "mental" condition that requires medication or treatment. Great for the big pharma companies of course. Or is it an excuse for parents who can't cope? Who knows. Time may tell!
    Mondo
    23rd Aug 2019
    3:27pm
    'Anxiety' is the new buzzword, they're anxious because they have never had to face any problems before, they have always been shielded. "Oh you need to go to sports? Jump in the car and Mummy will take you." "You've lost your phone again, don't worry Daddy will buy you a new one." And Daddy, don't mention that you can't afford it, we can't burden children with that sort of worry! "Oh the teacher told you off? How dare he do that to my little darling, I'll go and give him a piece of my mind."
    I had 5km to go to school through bombed out ruins, no bus route, few parents had a car so if I didn't keep my bike in working repair or fix it I had to walk and get up early enough to get there on time. I know others had much further to go.
    Most kids today can only grunt, if they can't speak how can they ask for and keep a job?
    As I said above, put battery chooks out to roam free range and they don't know how to scratch the soil to find food. That's the generation of kids that have been raised today, anxious and depressed because they can't cope with the world they have been released into from their hot-houses.
    Rosret
    23rd Aug 2019
    1:49pm
    Autism up > 500% ! The alarms bells should be seriously ringing and our research dollars should be turned in this direction.
    We spend so much on cancer and the elderly. Autism is our children. Genetics may have some part to play however I feel our environment is having a mega impact on our children. From microwave transmission, to constant noise and chaos, pollution and food additives.
    Ask any teacher - the issue is huge and it affects everyone not just the ASD child.
    Stoney
    23rd Aug 2019
    2:49pm
    I can't remember 'mental health' ever being discussed when I was young, although we did have a walled mental hospital in the country near us (in the UK), which everyone believed mostly contained people who had suffered during the second World War. Seems to me that modern youngsters find life too difficult because they don't want to face responsibility, and of course drugs are so easy to obtain - maybe their parents had similar problems and found drugs, and so the drug and mental health problem intensifies with each generation until 2028.
    andromeda143
    23rd Aug 2019
    6:00pm
    This magazine seems to be becoming more and more obsessed with health problems and dying. I do not want to know when I will die and I do not want to read a magazine which is totally focussed on the negative side of ageing.
    For God's sake start printing some positive stories about old people or I will stop reading your publication
    Dianne
    23rd Aug 2019
    6:34pm
    I do feel more stressed now than 10 years ago. Perhaps it will decline in the next 10 years when I will be 79. Something to look forward to.
    Susanne
    25th Aug 2019
    10:24am
    I agree with Addy about compulsory chest x-ray
    To find an lung cancer for non smokers can be discovered before it spreads


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