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Canberra Mental Health Survey - Report V - adolescents

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. More than 5 4 of Canberra adolescents say they are worried about

their career prospects. Only 2 5 are concerned about their relationships

with the opposite sex.

These findings have been produced by the Canberra Mental Health

Survey, conducted between July and October 1971 by the A.C.T. Health Services

office of the Commonwealth Department of Health.

On all questions covered by the survey, adolescents were found

to be less disturbed and more healthy than adults.

. Aims of the survey, of 1,422 people (1% of Canberra's population),


. to investigate the mental health of the Canberra population;

. to investigate relationships between mental health and.

various demographic, sociological and life stress factors;.

. to obtain information for the planning of community mental

health programmes.

Previous reports have covered the incidence of psychiatric

disorders among Canberra adults, social activities, attitudes to life,

loneliness, consumption of common drugs, and sources of help in times of

‘ \

personal crisis.

Developmental Problems , .

The 156 adolescents (15-18 years) interviewed by the survey

team were given a list of six common developmental problems. Asked to .

state whether these were "quite a problem", "a little worrying" or "no

problem at all", they replied:



$ quite !a $ a little $ no problem

problem worrying at all

1. The struggle for some independence from 11.9


2. Dissatisfaction with the way you.are making out 2.2

with the opposite sex.

3. Your career - what you .

are going, to do, or 11.9

whether you will make the grade. :

4. Your appearance - perhaps your looks, size, shape 9.0

or skin.

5. Uncertainty about what .

you believe in; what is 11.2

right and wrong may not be so easy to be sure about. '

6. Some worries about the school you go to, or your friends, or other 6.0

people important to you.






2 6 . 1







Girls show more concern about their physical appearance, and also worry more about their friends. .

Alcohol. Tobacco and other drugs

More than 77$ of the adolescents said they were non-smokers;

13.2$ smoked between one and five cigarettes a day; 4*4$ five to 14 a day;

3*6$ 15 to 24 a day; and 0.7$ 25 to 34 a day. .

None of those interviewed reported daily consumption of alcohol;

6.6$ said they drank alcohol "a few times a week"; 13*2$ at week-ends; 36.8$

on special occasions; and 43*3$ said they did not drink alcohol at all.

The numbers taking other drugs - tranquillizers, laxatives, headache

pills or powders, and sleeping pills - were almost negligible. . Vitamin

tablets were the only exception - taken daily by 9$.


Medical Treatment and General Health

When asked to rate their state of health, 39·7% stated "excellent",

53.7% "good", 6.6% "fair" and none at all "poor".

Only 9·5% of adolescents said they were currently receiving ..

regular treatment (approximately once a month) from a doctor. Of the

adults interviewed in the Canberra Mental Health Survey, 24.8$ reported

regular medical treatment. ' .

Psychiatric Disorders

The survey found that 4· 3% of the adolescents were moderately \

or severely psychiatrically disturbed. Using the Langner Mental Health

Scale, an established interview measure of symptoms of psychiatric .

disorder, results were:

. . Not Disturbed 74· 2$ .

Mildly Disturbed 21.4% .

Moderately or ' Severely Disturbed 4*5%

(As stated in a previous report, the survey found that 7*6% of Canberra

adults were moderately or severely psychiatrically disturbed).

In this section of the survey questionnaire^ subjects were given a

list of 22 symptoms. Those who recorded between nought and three symptoms

were listed as "not disturbed"; those who recorded between four and six as

"mildly disturbed"; a score of seven to nine symptoms received a

"moderately disturbed" classification; and a score of ten or above

"severely disturbed".

Release No. 283

October 5, 1972

Nigel Starck

PRO A.C.T. Health Services

tel. 49-8077

a.h. 48-7104