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Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Mental Health Data Explorer presents survey results on mental health status, risk of problematic substance use, loneliness, informal help-seeking and access to mental health and addictions services for both adults and children. Results are available by gender, age group, ethnic group and neighbourhood deprivation.

Use our Mental Health Data Explorer to see results from the mental health module of the 2016/17 New Zealand Health Survey or to download the published data as a .csv file.

The 2016/17 mental health module included three internationally used tools to assess mental health and substance use. These tools are:

  • ASSIST – The Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) is a screening tool that asks about the use of alcohol, tobacco, cannabinoids and other psychoactive substances. The screening test gives insight into problematic substance use including dependence and the risk of harm currently or in the future.
  • PHQ-SADS – The Patient Health Questionnaire: Somatic, Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms (PHQ-SADS) screens for the presence and severity of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms (such as pain and shortness of breath).
  • SDQ – The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) examines emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems and prosocial behaviours in children, and has been validated internationally to screen for mental health problems in children and adolescents.

Overview of key findings

Mental health-related issues

  • Among adults, 19% had mild or greater anxiety symptoms, 20% had mild or greater depression symptoms and 39% had mild or greater somatic symptoms (such as pain and shortness of breath) in the four weeks before being surveyed.
  • Women had higher rates of anxiety, depression and somatic symptoms than men.
  • Among children, boys (11%) had a higher rate of being likely to have emotional or behavioural problems than girls (6%).
  • After adjusting for age and gender, Māori adults were 1.1 times as likely to have mild or greater anxiety, depression or somatic symptoms (than non-Māori adults) and Māori children were 1.5 times as likely to have emotional or behavioural problems (than non-Māori children).
  • For both adults and children, those who were living in more socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods had higher rates of mental health-related issues.

Risk of problematic substance use

  • 32% of adults in New Zealand had a moderate or high risk of problematic substance use. This was largely due to moderate or high risk of problematic tobacco use (20%; which includes ex-smokers) and moderate or high risk of problematic alcohol use (15%).
  • The rate of men with a moderate or high risk of problematic substance use was higher (36%) than that of women (27%).
  • Adults living in the most deprived neighborhoods were 1.5 times as likely to have a moderate or high risk of problematic substance use than adults living in the least deprived neighborhoods, after adjusting for age, gender and ethnicity.
  • Moderate or high risk of problematic substance use was higher among adults with mild or greater anxiety, depression or somatic symptoms (38%) than the general adult population.

Use of health services and other informal help for mental health and substance use

  • In the year before being surveyed, 36% of adults had used some type of help (eg, health services, the internet, talking to family/whānau) for their mental health or substance use.
  • The most commonly reported types of help used by adults were complementary and alternative therapies (21%), help from primary care or medication (14%), using the internet to find out about symptoms (12%), counsellors, psychologists and helplines (9%) and talking to family, whānau or friends (9%).
  • 30% of all families had used help (including informal help) for their child’s emotions, behaviours, stress, mental health or substance use. Help was sought from a wide variety of sources including using the internet to find out about symptoms (11%), primary care or medication (10%), complementary and alternative therapies (9%), teachers (9%), counsellors, psychologists and helplines (9%) and family, whānau or friends (8%).
  • Adults with mild or greater anxiety, depression or somatic symptoms (53%) and adults with a moderate or high risk of problematic substance use (46%) were more likely to use help than the general adult population.
  • Children who were likely to have emotional or behavioural problems (68%) were more likely to use help than the general child population.
  • Generally, women were more likely to report using help than men (41% vs 31%), however there was no significant difference in families using help for boys and girls.
  • Pacific and Asian adults and children were less likely than non-Pacific and non-Asian adults and children to have used help. Māori children and their families were more likely to have used help than non-Māori children and their families.
  • Among adults with mild or greater anxiety, depression or somatic symptoms and adults with a moderate or high risk of problematic substance use, younger adults (aged 15–24 years) were more likely to use help than older adults (aged 75+ years).
  • There was a trend across deprivation quintiles, with lower rates of using help in more deprived neighbourhoods for both adults with mild or greater anxiety, depression or somatic symptoms and children who were likely to have emotional or behavioural problems (but not for adults with a moderate or high risk of problematic substance use).

Unmet need for professional help for mental health and substance use

  • About 1 in 20 adults and children reported an unmet need for professional help for their emotions, stress, mental health or substance use in the year before being surveyed.
  • Unmet need for professional help for mental health or substance use was higher for adults with mild or greater anxiety, depression or somatic symptoms (10%) and adults with a moderate or high risk of problematic substance use (8%) than for the general adult population.
  • Adults aged 75+ years were less likely to report an unmet need for professional help for mental health or substance use than younger adults (aged 15–24 years), both for adults with mild or greater anxiety, depression or somatic symptoms (1.8% and 17%, respectively) and for adults with a moderate or high risk of problematic substance use (0.6% and 15%, respectively).

MIL OSI