Mental illness

Understanding the prevalence and impacts of mental illness and poor mental health is necessary for promoting positive mental health outcomes among individuals and communities throughout Australia. Data and information on the prevalence and impacts of mental illness in Australia are available.

Over 2 in 5 (44% or 8.6 million) Australians aged 16–85 are estimated to have experienced a mental disorder at some time in their life.
Prevalence and impact of mental illness >

People living with mental illness are more likely to develop comorbid physical illness and have a lower life expectancy than the general population.
Physical health of people with mental illness >

In 2020, 59% of Australians were estimated to have experienced at least one personal stressor in the past 12 months.
Stress and trauma >


People with mental illness can access a variety of support services, which are delivered by governments, and by the private and not-for-profit sectors.

There were about 280,700 mental health-related overnight admitted patient hospitalisations in 2020–21.
Admitted patients

Around 10.2 million community mental health care contacts were provided in 2020–21.
Community services

In 2021–22, 3% of presentations to public emergency departments were mental health-related.
Emergency departments

2.8 million Australians (11% of the population) received Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services in 2021–22 Medicare-subsidised services

There were 44.4 million prescriptions dispensed for mental health-related medications in 2021–22.
Mental health prescriptions

In December 2021, 11% of NDIS participants had a psychosocial primary disability.
Psychosocial disability support services

In 2020–21, 9,051 episodes of residential mental health care were recorded for an estimated 7,180 residents.
Residential services

In 2021–22, 63% of SHS clients with a current mental health issue were females.
Specialist homelessness services

Funding and resources

A well-resourced mental health care system is integral to positive mental health outcomes in Australian communities. Data are available to understand how mental health care services in Australia are funded and resourced.

Hospital bed depicting mental health facilities7,100 specialised mental health public hospital beds were available across 162 hospitals in 2020–21.

Spending on mental health-related services increased from $9.3 billion (2016–17) to $11.6 billion in 2020–21

There were about 25,000 mental health nurses working in Australia in 2021.

Safety and quality

Safety and quality are important in all areas of the health system. A safe and high-quality health system provides the most appropriate and best-value care, while keeping patients safe from preventable harm. Data are available that can be used to measure aspects of safety and quality in the Australian mental health care system.

Across NSW, Qld and Vic 24,567 consumer-rated surveys were collected in 2021–22.
Consumer perspectives 

Information was recorded for 42% of consumers of public mental health services in 2021–22.
Consumer outcomes

Line graph showing the number of restrictive practices decreasingRates of both seclusion events and mechanical restraint events have fallen over the past decade.
Seclusion and restraint

In 2020–21 45% of hospitalisations in mental health care were involuntary in acute (short-term care) units. Involuntary treatment