Summary

Comparing Australian health expenditure for mental disorders with this expenditure in other countries is difficult. There are differences in what is included in the 'mental disorders' categories, differences in institutional arrangements and what is considered health expenditure, and differences in methods for allocating costs by disease.

Four countries-the Netherlands, the USA, Canada and Australia—are compared in some detail. After adjustments to make the data as comparable as possible, we estimate that these four countries spend between 9.5% and 11.5% of their health expenditures on dementia, substance abuse disorders and other mental disorders. The amount spent on other mental disorders specifically, ranges from 6.2% for Australia to 6.6% for the Netherlands and 7.3% by the USA. Given the uncertainties with these data, there is no evidence from this disease costs information that any of these four countries are under-spending or over-spending on mental disorders relative to each other.