The length of support that clients with a current mental health issue received in 2021–22 increased to a median of 90 days from 85 days in 2020–21. Similarly, the median number of nights accommodated increased to 51 nights in 2021–22 from 48 nights in 2020–21 (Supplementary table CLIENTS.46).
Changes over time since 2011–12
The number of clients with a current mental health issue receiving assistance from SHS agencies has increased at a faster rate than any other client group since the collection began in July 2011. Both the number and proportion of clients with a current mental health issue have also for the most part increased with each successive year.
Between 2011–12 and 2021–22 (Supplementary table HIST.MH):
- The proportion of clients with a current mental health issue increased from around one-fifth (19%) to almost one-third (31%) of all SHS clients.
- The number of clients with a current mental health issue increased by an average of 6.7% with each year; an annual change around 3 times higher than that for all SHS clients (1.4%) over the same period.
- The rate of SHS clients with a current mental health issue increased from 20.0 clients per 10,000 population to 33.2.
New or returning clients
In 2021–22, among SHS clients with a current mental health issue (Supplementary table CLIENTS.40):
- 7 in 10 (71% or 60,600 clients) were returning clients, that is, returning clients received assistance from a SHS agency in the past (from 2011 onwards).
- 3 in 10 (29% or 24,600 clients) were new to SHS agencies.
In 2021–22, the main reason that clients with a current mental health issue sought assistance from a SHS agency was not commonly related to mental health issues (4.1% or 3,500 clients). Instead, the main reasons for seeking assistance were for (Supplementary table MH.5):
- housing crisis (21% or 18,200 clients)
- family and domestic violence (19% or 16,500 clients)
- inadequate or inappropriate dwelling conditions (13% or almost 11,100 clients).
The most common main reason(s) clients with a current mental health issue sought assistance differed slightly depending on whether the clients were at risk of homelessness or were experiencing homelessness when they first presented to a SHS agency. For those experiencing homelessness, the main reason was housing crisis (24% or 9,800 clients), while for those at risk of homelessness it was family and domestic violence (25% or 10,100) (Supplementary table MH.6).
Services needed and provided
In 2021–22, most clients with a current mental health issue needed assistance with accommodation provision (70%), though other common assistance sought included general and financial advice and advocacy. Assistance with accessing mental health services was also relatively common, with more than one-quarter (27% or 23,000) of clients with a current mental health issue needing assistance with mental health-based services (Supplementary table MH.2). Specifically:
- 25% (21,000 clients) needed mental health services; 45% (9,500 clients) of these clients were provided with this type of service.
- 9.1% (almost 7,800 clients) identified a need for psychological services; 31% (2,400 clients) of these clients had this need met.
- 5.9% (5,100 clients) identified a need for psychiatric services; 34% (1,700 clients) of these clients had this need met.
Figure MH.3: Clients with a current mental health issue, by services needed and provided, 2021–22