Consumer perspectives of mental health care

This page shows data about consumer-rated experiences of care in Australian public mental health services using the nationally developed Your Experience of Service (YES) survey. Service settings include ambulatory (non-admitted) services, residential (overnight) services, and admitted (hospital) services.

Key points

In one year in Australia, the Your Experience of Service survey was used for:

3 jurisdictions – New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria

24,567 surveys from consumers

86 mental health services

Spotlight data

Many survey respondents report having a positive experience of Australian mental health care. A positive experience of service is more commonly reported for people who received care from ambulatory (non-admitted) services compared with admitted services.

Infographic containing a map of Australia highlighting New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria who contributed Your Experience of Service (YES) survey data for 2021–22 and doughnut charts showing the proportion of survey respondents with a positive experience of service in admitted and ambulatory care for each state. At least 47% of consumers in admitted care reported a positive experience of service. At least 70% of consumers in ambulatory care reported a positive experience. Refer to Table CP.5.


  1. An individual consumer may have completed the Your Experience of Service (YES) survey more than once in the reporting period.
  2. The experience of service score is the average of survey questions 1–22 multiplied by 20. A score of 80 and above (out of 100) indicates a positive experience.
  3. In NSW, consumers are offered the YES survey throughout the year, while in Vic and Qld, consumers are offered the YES over a particular time of year. Comparisons between jurisdictions should be made with caution.

Source: Your Experience of Service Survey Database; Table CP.5.

Who completes a Your Experience of Service survey?

How do consumers rate their experience of care?

This refers to data using the consumers’ response to a single question in the YES survey, ‘Overall, how would you rate your experience of care with this service in the last 3 months?’. Consumers can select one of five responses – Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good or Excellent.

Who rates a positive experience of service?

This positive experience of service score is calculated using a method developed to reflect each respondent’s experience across multiple survey questions. It is calculated using all 22 survey questions to generate a score. A threshold score is used to indicate a positive experience of service.

Where do I find more information?

Involuntary treatment in mental health care

Many people improve clinically after care from public mental health services. Improvement is seen after about 72% of hospital care episodes and 51% of community care episodes according to clinician-rated measures (Gee et al. 2022). More information is in the Consumer outcomes report.

If the information presented raises any issues for you, these resources can help:

Notes to interpret the data

Key concepts 
Key conceptDescription
Admitted care

A specialised mental health service that provides care in a psychiatric hospital or a specialised mental health unit in an acute hospital. Psychiatric hospitals and specialised mental health units in acute hospitals are establishments devoted primarily to the treatment and care of admitted patients with psychiatric, mental or behavioural disorders. These services are staffed by health professionals with specialist mental health qualifications or training and have as their principal function the treatment and care of patients affected by mental disorder/illness.

Ambulatory care 

A specialised mental health service that provides services to people who are not currently admitted to a mental health admitted or residential service. Services are delivered by health professionals with specialist mental health qualifications or training. Ambulatory mental health services include:

  • community-based crisis assessment and treatment teams
  • day programs
  • mental health outpatient clinics provided by either hospital or community-based services
  • child and adolescent outpatient and community teams
  • social and living skills programs
  • psychogeriatric assessment services
  • hospital-based consultation-liaison and in-reach services to admitted patients in non-psychiatric and hospital emergency settings
  • ambulatory-equivalent same day separations
  • home based treatment services
  • hospital based outreach services.

Whether a person was provided care under relevant state or territory mental health legislation compulsory treatment provisions.

The state and territory mental health acts and regulations provide the legislative guidance that safeguards the rights and governs the care of patients with mental illness in admitted patient care, residential care and community-based services. The legislation varies between the state and territory jurisdictions but all contain provisions for the assessment, admission and treatment of patients on an involuntary basis.

A person with involuntary status received care under compulsory treatment provisions.

A person with voluntary status received care that was not under compulsory treatment provisions.

Residential care 

A service that is considered by the state, territory or Australian Government funding authorities as a service that:

  • has the workforce capacity to provide specialised mental health services
  • employs suitably trained mental health staff to provide rehabilitation, treatment or extended care on-site:
    • to consumers residing on an overnight basis
    • in a domestic-like environment
  • encourages the consumer to take responsibility for their daily living activities.

These services include those that employ mental health trained staff on-site 24 hours per day and other services with less intensive staffing (but the trained staff must be on site for a minimum of 6 hours a day and at least 50 hours per week).

Suitably trained residential mental health care staff may include:

  • individuals with Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualifications in community services, mental health or disability sectors
  • individuals with tertiary qualifications in medicine, social work, psychology, occupational therapy, counselling, nursing or social sciences
  • individuals with experience in mental health or disability relevant to providing mental health consumers with appropriate services.
Specialised mental health services

Specialised mental health services are those with a primary function to provide treatment, rehabilitation or community support targeted towards people with a mental disorder or psychiatric disability. These activities are delivered from a service or facility that is readily identifiable as both ‘specialised’ and ‘serving a mental health care function’.

A service is not defined as a specialised mental health service solely because its clients include people affected by a mental disorder or psychiatric disability.

The definition excludes specialist drug and alcohol services and services for people with intellectual disabilities, except where they are specifically established to assist people affected by a mental disorder who also have drug and alcohol related disorders or intellectual disability.

The services can be sub-units of hospitals that are not, themselves, specialised mental health establishments (for example designated psychiatric units and wards, outpatient clinics etc).

Your Experience of Service National Best Endeavours Data Set (YES NBEDS)

The YES NBEDS is Data Set Specification that describes the YES survey questions and defines coding for responses. The scope of YES NBEDS is state and territory public sector specialised mental health services. Specific information for each data element can be found in the YES NBEDS entry on the METEOR website.

Data coverage is 2015–16 to 2021–22 for New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. It is anticipated that data will become available from additional jurisdictions for future updates. This section was last updated in July 2023.