About a third of a million Kiwis reported reported experiencing psychological distress in the four weeks before taking part in the 2017/18 National Health Survey, reports the Ministry of Health.

The 336,000 adults (8.6%) experienced symptoms such as anxiety, confused emotions, depression or rage which is up from 7.6% in the  2016/17 survey  and up from 6.6% in 2006/07.

The data is drawn from the annual New Zealand Health Survey which interviewed 13,869 adults and  the parents/caregivers of 4723 children between July 2017 and June 2018 about a wide range of health factors including mental health, body size, smoking and barriers to accessing health care.

Self-reported health by Kiwi adults remained high at 87.5 per cent of people saying their health was ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ but was down from 89.6 per cent in 2007-07 and also slightly down from 88.2 per cent in 2016-17.

The initial indicators from the survey were released today including the increase in mental distress. Psychological distress rates were highest among young adults. Also people living in the most socioeconomically deprived areas were 2.5 times as likely to experience psychological distress then people living in the least deprived areas (after adjusting for age, sex and ethnicity).

Survey respondents are selected from the ‘usually resident’ population of all ages living in private dwellings, aged-care facilities and student accommodation (99% of the eligible population).

Other findings included:

  • Obesity levels for adults remained unchanged between this year and last year at 32 per cent (1 in 3) of Kiwi adults but is up on just 26.5 per cent in 2006-07.
  • The percentage of smokers was slightly down from 15.7% last year to 14.9% this year (was 20% in 2006-07).
  • The percentage of hazardous drinkers (established alcohol drinking pattern that carries a risk of harming the drinker’s physical or mental health) remained relatively static at 19.8% compared to 19.5% the previous year and 20.8% in 2015-16.

See full details here.

Where to get help:

If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

Asian Helpline – 0800 862 342
Lifeline – 0800 543 354
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Youthline – 0800 376 633 or free text 234
Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (for under 18s)
What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18-year-olds 1pm–10pm weekdays and 3pm–10pm weekends)
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
Samaritans – 0800 726 666
OUTLine NZ – 0800 688 5463
Healthline – 0800 611 116


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