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In 2010-11, 9% of the Australian population (or 1.9 million Australians) received mental health services, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Mental health services—in brief 2013 is being  released on world mental health day, a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. The report provides an overview of how the health and welfare system responds to the needs of Australians affected by mental illness.

'Mental health is an important health issue in Australia,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear.

'An estimated 7.3 million Australians aged between 16 and 85 (45%) will experience a mental health-related disorder in their lifetime. And, one in 5 Australians in this age range experience symptoms of a mental disorder each year.

'This compendium document published annually provides an easily accessible summary of key mental health service and resource data.' 

The publication summarises the key findings from the AIHW's Mental health services in Australia website (http://mhsa.aihw.gov.au) which is updated regularly as new data become available.  

'Mental health services in Australia are provided through hospitals and other residential care facilities, hospital-based outpatient care services, community mental health services, and consultations with GPs and specialists,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Pamela Kinnear.

Almost $6.9 billion was spent on mental health-related services in Australia during 2010-11, equating to $309 per person.

'Spending on mental health services increased by almost 6% per Australian per year over the five years to 2010-11,' Dr Kinnear said.

Information about mental health services provided in emergency departments (EDs) was also updated today on the Mental health services in Australia website.

There were an estimated 243,444 mental health-related public hospital ED occasions of service in 2010-11.

'This is an increase of almost 3% compared to the estimated number of visits in 2009-10,' Dr Kinnear said.

Over 80% of mental health-related ED occasions of service were classified as urgent (patient should be seen within 30 minutes) or semi-urgent (patient should be seen within 60 minutes)

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 8 October 2013

Further information: Dr Pamela Kinnear, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5096, mob. 0421 600 377

Full publication: Mental health services—in brief 2013