Continued decline in use of seclusion in mental health facilities

Information showing a continuing decline in the use of seclusion in mental health facilities has today been made available on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW's) Mental Health Services in Australia website (available at http://mhsa.aihw.gov.au).

Seclusion is defined as confinement at any time of the day or night alone in a room or area from which free exit is prevented. For the first time the national seclusion collection has been extended to include the duration of a seclusion event, the number of episodes with a seclusion event and more detailed information to allow more accurate calculation of separate rates for children's units, older person's units and adult units.

Seclusion rates in acute mental health units have dropped over time, falling from 13.5 seclusion events per 1,000 bed days to 8.0 events between 2009-10 and 2013-14.

Nationally, seclusion rates were highest in child and adolescent units (9.6 episodes per 1,000 bed days) and adult mental health units (9.5 seclusion events per 1,000 bed days).

'However, the duration of seclusion events for child and adolescent units is much lower, at 1.3 hours, compared to, for example, adult units (6.3 hours) and older person units (3.5 hours),' said AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck.

A seclusion event occurred in about 1 in 20 (5.3%) mental health-related admitted care episodes in Australian public acute hospitals in 2013-14.

Reducing the use of seclusion is a national priority for mental health, and was formally endorsed by health ministers in the National safety priorities in mental health: a national plan for reducing harm.

National seclusion data were first published in 2013 with data dating back to 2008-09 published.

The AIHW also published information on Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) for first time today on the Mental Health Services in Australia website as well as updated information on ambulatory-equivalent mental health-related admitted patient care.

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, 17 December 2014

For further information on seclusion data: Geoff Neideck, AIHW tel. 02 6244 1163, mob. 0439 878 933  

For general information about seclusion practices in Australia: Assoc Prof John Allan, Chair of the Safety & Quality Partnership Standing Committee, tel. (07) 3328 9061