Most recipients of state and territory mental health care rate their experience positively

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that most people receiving state and territory mental health services are satisfied with the treatment and care they receive.

Data, published in today’s Mental health services in Australia web report, presents results from the Your Experience of Service (YES) survey, for mental health patients in New South Wales and Queensland about their perceptions of the treatment and care they received.

‘The YES survey aims to help mental health services and consumers work together to build better services that meet patients’ needs,’ said AIHW spokesperson Matthew James.

‘Of the 24,300 surveys completed in 2016–17, about 86% of respondents in New South Wales and 73% in Queensland rated their overall experience of service as ‘good’, ‘very good’, or ‘excellent’.’

However, the report also shows that some people are less likely to have positive experiences of mental health care. The report uses a score out of 100 to reflect each respondent’s experience of service, where a score of 80 or above is a positive experience.

People who were involuntarily admitted were less likely to rate their experience as positive, with 63% of these people in New South Wales and 44% in Queensland reporting a score of 80 or above (compared to 74% and 62% of voluntary patients in New South Wales and Queensland respectively).

Where a patient received their mental health services also had an effect on the experience of service score – most respondents (about 79% in New South Wales and 81% in Queensland) who received care from ambulatory (not admitted) services had a positive experience, compared to 68% (New South Wales) and 52% (Queensland) of respondents in admitted service units.

Today’s release also provides more detailed data on the use of restrictive practices in public sector acute mental health hospital services. For the first time, the report contains data on restrictive practices at a hospital level, showing considerable variation between individual hospitals in Australia.

Restrictive practices includes seclusion (where a patient is confined alone in a room from which free exit is prevented) and restraint. Restraint can either be physical (for example, hands-on immobilisation techniques performed by health care staff) or mechanical (the use of devices such as belts or straps).

‘The highest hospital seclusion rate in 2016–17 was 56 seclusion events per 1,000 days of patient care while several hospitals with specialised mental health services had no seclusion events recorded,’ Mr James said.

While the highest hospital physical restraint rate in 2016–17 was 38 events per 1,000 days of patient care, once again, several hospitals had no physical restraint events recorded.

‘The variation in the use of restrictive practices can be due to a range of factors, including the number of acute mental health service units a hospital has, the types of mental health services offered by a hospital, and the type of mental health patients being treated by the hospital,’ Mr James said.

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