Key findings

Key wellbeing findings over five years include:

  • Age: Younger people (18-25) have consistently reported lower levels of wellbeing than older Australians;
  • Employment status: The unemployed report the lowest levels of wellbeing whereas the retirees report the highest levels of wellbeing;
  • Living arrangements: Australians living with a partner reported significantly higher levels of wellbeing compared to all other groups (e.g. sole parents, living with parents, etc.);
  • Children: Those with children have higher levels of wellbeing than those without children; and
  • Education/Income: Wellbeing levels rise with education and income.

Key findings on other measures include:

  • 35 per cent of Australians report having a significant level of distress in their lives;
  • 26 per cent of Australians report above normal levels of anxiety symptoms;
  • 26 per cent of Australians report having moderate to extremely severe levels of depression symptoms; and
  • In 2015, anxiety symptoms were the highest they have been in the five years of the survey.

Australians’ worries about money have not abated. Financial issues are rated as the top cause of stress over the five years, while also of concern is the increase in the number of people turning to gambling to manage stress (now one in five) growing from 13 per cent in 2011 to 19 per cent in 2015.

People who report higher levels of anxiety and depression symptoms and distress are more likely to gamble, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and take recreational drugs:

  • Of those reporting severe levels of distress, 61 per cent drink alcohol, 41 per cent gamble, 40 per cent smoke and 31 per cent take recreational drugs to manage stress;
  • Of those reporting extremely severe levels of depression symptoms, 57 per cent drink alcohol, 46 per cent gamble, 41 per cent smoke cigarettes and 38 per cent take recreational drugs to manage stress; and
  • Of those reporting extremely severe levels of anxiety symptoms, 66 per cent drink alcohol, 54 per cent gamble, 47 per cent take recreational drugs and 45 per cent smoke cigarettes to manage stress.

Stress

The top five causes of stress in Australia over the five years are:

  • personal finances - 49 per cent;
  • family issues - 45 per cent;
  • personal health - 44 per cent;
  • trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle - 40 per cent; and
  • issues with the health of others close to us - 38 per cent.

The five most popular ways of managing stress in Australia over the five years are:

  • watching television/ movies - 85 per cent;
  • focusing on the positives - 81 per cent;
  • spending time with friends and/ or family - 81 per cent;
  • listening to music - 80 per cent; and
  • reading - 75 per cent.