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Psychiatric and Psychological Disabilities

New Zealand Disability Survey Snapshot 9
Psychiatric and Psychological Disabilities

People with a psychiatric or psychological disability have difficulty with, or are prevented from doing, everyday activities that people their age can usually do because of a long-term emotional, psychological or psychiatric condition. Everyday activities can include communicating, mixing with others or socialising.

An estimated 16 percent of disabled adults (104,500) had psychiatric or psychological disabilities in 2001. This was approximately 4 percent of the total adult population of New Zealand.(1) Approximately 25 percent of disabled children (0 to 14 years) living in households (22,200) had psychiatric or psychological disabilities. This was just under 3 percent of all children in households in 2001.

Ninety-one percent of adults with psychiatric or psychological disabilities (94,800) were living in households in 2001; the remaining 9 percent (9,600) were living in residential care.

Some 44 percent of adults with psychiatric or psychological disabilities (45,500) reported that it was their main disability. This includes adults that had no other type of disability.

More women had psychiatric or psychological disabilities (63,900) than men (40,500) in 2001. However, more boys (0 to 14 years) had psychiatric or psychological disabilities (14,300) than girls (7,900).

People with psychiatric or psychological disabilities were more highly concentrated in the younger age groups than people with all types of disabilities. Just over 60 percent of people with psychiatric or psychological disabilities were aged under 45 years old. By comparison, approximately 40 percent of all disabled people were under 45 years old.

Approximately 42 percent of adults with psychiatric or psychological disabilities were partnered in 2001. This compares with around 60 percent of all New Zealand adults.

(1) Note that some specific types of non-private dwellings were not included in the survey, such as hospices and acute psychiatric wards, forensic psychiatric wards/hospitals and penal institutions. Our Information Centres are at: Wellington 04 495 4600 Email:

This is the last in a series of nine snapshots presenting a selection of findings from the 2001 New Zealand Disability Survey. The survey provides an overview of disability in New Zealand. It covers people living in households and residential care facilities. The results are comparable with those from the 1996–1997 New Zealand Disability Survey.

A technical report containing information about how the survey was conducted, and tables from the 1996–1997 and 2001 New Zealand Disability Surveys was published on 30 May 2002. This report is available free on the Statistics New Zealand website:

Brian Pink
Government Statistician

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