By Jim Leffman

Half of us will have had a mental health disorder by the time we are 75, a new study shows.

And the most vulnerable are aged 15 to 20.

Researchers looked at 150,000 people from 29 countries between 2001 and 2022.

The data was taken from face-to-face interviews from the World Health Organisation’s World Mental Health Survey initiative.

Lead author Professor John McGrath from the University of Queensland’s Brain Institute said the results demonstrate the high prevalence of mental health disorders, with 50 percent of the population developing at least one disorder by the age of 75.

Half of us will have had a mental health disorder by the time we are 75, a new study shows. NIK SHULIAHIN/UNSPLASH

He added: “The most common were mood disorders such as major depression or anxiety.

“We also found the risk of certain mental disorders differed by sex.”

The three most common mental health disorders among women were depression,
specific phobia, disabling anxiety that interferes with daily life, and post-traumatic stress.

(Photo by Elīna Arāja via Pexels)

In men, the most common were alcohol abuse, depression and specific phobia.

The research also found mental health disorders typically first emerge in childhood, adolescence or young adulthood.

McGrath said: “The peak age of first onset was at 15 years old, with a median age of onset of 19 for men and 20 for women.

“This lends weight to the need to invest in basic neuroscience to understand why these disorders develop.”

Co-author Professor Ronald Kessler from Harvard Medical School said investment was also needed in mental health services with a particular focus on young people.

He said: “Services need to be able to detect and treat common mental disorders promptly and be optimized to suit patients in these critical parts of their lives.

“By understanding the age at which these disorders commonly arise, we can tailor public health interventions and allocate resources to ensure that appropriate and timely support is available to individuals at risk.”

The researchers said the outcomes provide valuable insights into the frequency and timing of mental disorder onset based on many different populations.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker