Mental health services in Australia - February 2018 update

2 Feb 2018

Mental illness comprises a wide range of disorders and varies in its severity. The effect of mental illness can be severe on the individuals and families concerned and its influence is far-reaching for society as a whole. Social problems commonly associated with mental illness include poverty, unemployment or reduced productivity and homelessness. Those with mental illness often experience problems such as isolation, discrimination and stigma.

A program of population surveys, the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHWB), began in Australia in the late 1990s. These surveys provide evidence on the prevalence of mental illness in the Australian population, the amount of disability associated with mental disorders and the use of health services by people with mental disorders.

These studies have 3 main components—a population-based survey of adults, a service-based survey of people with psychotic disorders, and a population-based survey of children.

  1. National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (2007) : 7.3 million or 45% of Australians aged 16–85 will experience a common mental health disorder (e.g.  depression, anxiety or a substance use disorder) in their lifetime.
  2. National Survey of Psychotic Illness (2010) : almost 64,000 people have a psychotic illness and are in contact with public specialised mental health services each year.
  3. Australian Child and Adolescent Survey  of Mental Health and Wellbeing (Young Minds Matter) (2015):  560,000 child and adolescents aged 4–17 (about 14%) experienced mental health disorders in 2012–13.

AIHW estimates that around $8.5 billion per annum is spent on mental health-related services in Australia. Services include residential and community services, hospital based services (both inpatient and outpatient), consultation with specialists and general practitioners.

Data presented throughout this report is sourced from a range of different data collections grouped by broad subject areas, and then presented in sections, available at the links below. Data are progressively published as data becomes available throughout the year.

Please note - Mental health services in Australia has been published as a web report since 2011

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