Mental health services in Australia 2011 is the first online presentation of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) series of annual mental health reports which provide a picture of the national response of the health and welfare service system to the mental health care needs of Australians. This In brief report summarises key _ndings from the online information on the range of mental health services provided in Australia and makes the data collected in the Mental Health Care National Minimum Data Sets (NMDSs) publicly available.

How many people are affected?

An estimated 7 million Australians (45% of the population aged 16–85 years) will experience a mental disorder over their lifetime. In addition, an estimated 3 million Australians (20% of the population aged 16–85 years) will experience symptoms of a mental disorder each year (DoHA 2009).

What is the impact of mental illness?

Mental disorders accounted for 13% of the total burden of disease in Australia in 2003 (Begg et al. 2007). Mental disorders were responsible for 718 deaths in 2008, excluding suicide and dementia, with most deaths due to substance abuse involving alcohol and heroin (ABS 2010). Mental illnesses were the leading cause of non-fatal burden of disease (24%), with most mental illness burden attributable to anxiety, depression, alcohol abuse and personality disorders.

How many people are accessing mental health services?

One-third of the population estimated to have a mental disorder accessed mental health services in 2007, predominantly through a general practitioner (GP) consultation (ABS 2009).