Media Releases

New headspace research reveals alarming levels of psychological distress in young Australians

09 Oct 2018

headspace has revealed alarming new data on the levels of psychological distress amongst young Australians. The research is released on the third annual headspace day, as part of National Mental Health Week. 

  • Nearly one in three (32%) young Australians (12 to 25 year olds) are reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress – more than treble the rate in 2007 (9%).

  • Rates of distress are significantly higher amongst young women (38% compared to 26% of young men).

  • 18 to 21 year olds are reporting the highest levels (38% compared to 20% of 12 to 14 year olds)

  • Victoria has the highest percentage of young people reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress – 35% compared to 33% in WA and SA, 31% in NSW and 29% in Queensland.

Jason Trethowan, CEO of headspace says, “This new research has revealed a startling and deeply concerning increase in the levels of psychological distress currently being experienced by young people throughout Australia, affecting young people of all ages, locations and backgrounds. The figures are too high to be ignored or not be taken as serious warning that the mental wellbeing of our future generation needs to be prioritised, nurtured and safeguarded.”

“One of the most vulnerable times for young people to experience mental health issues is between 18 and 24 years of age. At this stage, young people face a unique set of life challenges: transitioning from school to study or the workforce, moving out of home and relationship break-ups, which can all make it hard for them to stay in a positive state of mind. We need to continue to invest in services for our young people, and help them build their mental health literacy from a young age”, says Mr Trethowan.

Media personality Johnny Ruffo is this year’s headspace day ambassador. Ruffo says, “I have been through a few tough times in my youth, such as my parents’ divorce, health issues and relationship break-ups, that all really impacted my mental health. It is really important to try and focus on the positives in other areas of your life, so that the negatives don’t take over. I try to remain physically active, eat well, nurture strong relationships with family and friends and fall back on my passion for writing music and performing. headspace has some great tips for taking control of your mental wellbeing in both stressful times and just as part of your daily life.”

headspace youth advocate Pheobe, 21 years old, has first-hand experience of learning how to keep a positive headspace, “In the past I have let one or two negative situations overtake my entire state of wellbeing, and lost touch with what else was good in my life. headspace has helped me understand how to take back control and not let external factors dictate my mental wellbeing.”


7 Tips for a healthy headspace

headspace collaborated with young people throughout Australia to develop the following tips:

  1. Get into life and do stuff that’s important to you
  2. Learn new ways to handle tough times
  3. Build close and connected relationships
  4. Eat well
  5. Stay active
  6. Get enough sleep
  7. Cut back on alcohol and other drugs

To get involved, follow headspace on social media and share your favourite tip or illustration using #headspaceday 

Suzanne La Fontaine
headspace Media and Communications Manager
(04) 3827 8000 or

Steph Fonti
headspace Media and Communications Coordinator 
(04) 3102 5385 or