The proportion of ACT young people (16-25 years) who report experiencing a high or very high level of psychological distress.
What do we measure?
The proportion of ACT young people aged 16-25 years who report experiencing a high or very high level of psychological distress based on the Kessler 10 scale.
Why is this important?
Experiences of psychological distress are detrimental to a child or young person's mental health and wellbeing. The Kessler 10 scale measures self-reported experience of feeling anxiety and depressive symptoms in the four weeks prior to the survey.17 Young people who experience mental health problems are at higher risk of poor health and wellbeing outcomes.18
Information from this indicator will inform government policies and programs in relation to initiatives that are effective in promoting resilience and social and emotional wellbeing while improving the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in the ACT.19
The Year 7 Health Check is currently under development to examine the prevalence, distribution and patterns of adolescent health and wellbeing across ACT schools. The program will have assessments of healthy weight, emotional wellbeing, along with associated risk factors. Although the program will focus on those aged 12-13 years, it will provide an increasingly comprehensive picture of health challenges facing this age group as they transition to secondary school and progress from early adolescence. The data may be useful in establishing the scale of emotional difficulties in this age group, its trend and, ultimately, help to inform future service design.
How is the ACT progressing?
Table 12: Proportion (%) of self-reported high or very high psychological distress, ACT residents aged 16-25 years, 2007-08 to 2015-16
Source: 2007-16 ACT General Health Survey.
Note Although the proportion for 2015-16 looks higher, it is not significantly different from the previous period (2009-14). Due to the small sample size for this age group, multiple survey periods have been combined to calculate proportions. Thus, the results should be interpreted with caution. Findings from the 2007-16 ACT General Health Survey show that 15.6 per cent of ACT young people aged 16-25 years self-reported high or very high psychological distress. Females (20.0%) appear to be more likely to report experiencing a high or very high level of psychological distress than males (11.4%).
17 University of Adelaide 2009, The Relationship between Psychological Distress and Psychological Wellbeing — Kessler 10 and various wellbeing scales.
18 ACT Health 2011, The Health Status of Young People in the ACT, p.22, Canberra.
19 ACT Government 2015, ACT Children and Young People’s Commitment 2015–2025, Priorities 2 and 4.