Mental health-related GP services continue to grow, medication most common form of management

Almost 16 million general practitioner (GP) encounters were mental health-related in 2012-13, according to information released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

'Mental health is an important issue in Australia, and GPs are often the first point of call for people who may need to access mental health-related services,' said AIHW spokesperson Mr Tim Beard.

The estimated 15.8 million GP encounters in 2012-13 that were mental-health related accounts for 12.3% of all GP encounters during the year, up from 11.7% in 2008-09.

There has been an average annual increase of 4.7% in the estimated number of mental health-related GP encounters since 2008-09.

Depression (32%), anxiety (16%) and sleep disturbance (12%) were the 3 most frequently managed mental health-related problems in 2012-13, accounting for 60% of all mental health-related problems managed.

Medication(s) being prescribed, supplied or recommended by a GP was the most common form of management of mental health-related problems, and antidepressants were the most commonly medication.  

'As well as mental health services that are provided through consultations with GPs, services are also provided by specialists, hospitals and other residential care facilities, hospital-based outpatient care services and community mental health services,' Mr Beard said.

Nationally, psychologists provided more than 3.7 million MBS-subsidised mental health services to almost 806,000 patients in 2012-13 and psychiatrists provided about 2.1 million MBS-subsidised services to almost 323,000 patients.

There were more than 241,000 mental health-related hospitalisations in 2012-13, and about 60% of these included specialised psychiatric care.

There were also almost 188,000 emergency department occasions of service with a mental health-related principal diagnosis.

Over 6.2 million community mental health care service contacts were recorded in 2012-13.

In the same period over 6,500 episodes of residential mental health care provided 286,925 residential care days for over 4,800 residents; most frequently for episodes relating to schizophrenia (30%) and depressive episodes (10%).

The information was published today on the AIHW's Mental health services in Australia website ( which is updated regularly and the website's annual companion publication Mental health services-in brief 2014, which provides an easily accessible summary of key mental health service and resource data from the website. 

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.


Previous article Next article