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The HILDA report: The mental health trend that shocked researchers

Poverty and mental illness diagnoses are increasing while wages are stagnating, according to a somewhat bleak snapshot of family life in Australia.

The Melbourne Institute’s HILDA (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia) report has uncovered clear trends in happiness and home finances.


The research found that the share of households living on less than half the median income has increased to 10.4 per cent.

It also found that the average household income grew by only 3.5 per cent in the eight years to 2017.

“We’re just not progressing on the income front,” Dr Roger Wilkins, Deputy Director of the Melbourne Institute, told Ross and John.


Dr Wilkins said there was a clear increase in reported cases of mental illness, particularly among women.

“The thing that struck me the most this year was the big rise in people reporting that they have a diagnosed mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety,” he said.

“We’ve now got one in five women under the age of 55 have a diagnosed mental illness (up from around 12 per cent 10 years ago).

“On the plus side, it probably means that because we’re asking about diagnosed conditions, is it means they’ve actually gone and got help.

“But I think there’s also a side to it that we’ve actually got a growth in mental illness.”

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