Spending on mental health services set to reach $10 billion

An average of $400 was spent per person on mental health-related services in Australia during 2017-18, according to new figures released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report, Mental health services in Australia, shows that almost $10 billion was spent nationally on mental health services in 2017–18 in Australia.

‘Per person expenditure on mental health services increased from $382 to $400 between 2013–14 and 2017–18,’ said AIHW spokesperson Mr. Matthew James.

 ‘Of the $9.9 billion in spending, 60.6% was provided by state and territory governments, 33.9% by the Australian Government, and 5.5% by private health insurance funds. This distribution has remained steady over the past five years.’  

Spending on state and territory specialised mental health services totalled $6.0 billion for 2017–18.

‘The largest proportion of state and territory expenditure was spent on public hospital services for admitted patients ($2.6 billion), this was closely followed by expenditure on community mental health care services totalling $2.3 billion,’ said Mr. James said.

Today’s release also provides new data on the use of restrictive practices in mental health facilities, and builds on previous data about the use of seclusion and restraint in mental health facilities.

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

‘When reporting began in 2009–10, there were about 14 seclusion events recorded for every 1,000 days of patient care. In 2018–19, this is down to about 7 events per 1,000 days of care,’ Mr. James said.

The use of physical restraint nationally has remained relatively stable since reporting began in 2015–16, at about 10 to 11 events per 1,000 days of patient care. The rate of mechanical restraint has also remained stable at 0.6 events per 1,000 days of patient care.

The report will be updated with the latest available data on mental health services throughout 2020, and is available at www.aihw.gov.au/mhsa.

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