Mental health beds and patient days

There were 12,194 specialised mental health beds available nationally during 2015–16, with 7,057 beds provided by public hospital services, 2,754 by private hospitals, and 2,383 by residential mental health services (Figure FAC.3).

Figure FAC.3: Distribution of specialised mental health beds in Australia, 2015–16

: Figure FAC.3 shows the distribution of specialised mental health beds in 2015–16. The chart shows that the majority of beds were provided by hospitals, while residential beds accounted for approximately 1 in 5 beds. Public hospitals provided more than two times the amount of beds that private hospitals provided and the majority of public hospital beds were for acute care. The majority of residential mental health services beds were provided by government-operated services. Most of the residential beds, regardless of whether they were government or non-government operated services, were provided in 24-hour staffed residential services.

Source: Tables FAC.12, FAC.20 and FAC.24.

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities tables 2015–16 tables (529KB XLS)

Public sector specialised mental health hospital beds

There were 7,057 public sector specialised mental health hospital beds available in 2015–16 in Australia. Three quarters of these (76.0% or 5,360 beds) were in specialised psychiatric units or wards within public acute hospitals, with the remainder in public psychiatric hospitals (1,698 beds).

New South Wales (35.8) had the highest number of beds per 100,000 population in 2015–16, while the Northern Territory had the lowest (17.6), compared to the national rate of 29.4 beds per 100,000 population.

Public sector specialised mental health hospital beds can be described by the target population or program type category of the specialised mental health service unit, or a combination of both.

Target population

The majority of public sector specialised mental health hospital beds (5,080 or 72.0%) were in General services during 2015–16, 1,012 beds (14.3%) in Older person services, 647 (9.2%) in Forensic services and 278 (3.9%) in Child and adolescent services. A small number of beds were in Youth services (40 beds or 0.6%); a category that was introduced in 2011–12.

The proportion of specialised mental health hospital beds for each target population category varied among the states and territories, reflecting the different service profile approach in each state/territory. The majority of beds were in services classified as General, accounting for over at least 62.1% of beds in each state/territory (Figure FAC.4).

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities tables 2015–16 tables (529KB XLS)

New South Wales had the highest number of hospital beds per 100,000 population for both General services (41.6) and Child and adolescent services (6.4) compared to the national rates of 33.8 and 5.2 per 100,000 population respectively. South Australia (45.2) had the highest number of Older person hospital beds per 100,000 population (national average 28.0) and Tasmania (5.7) had the most Forensic hospital beds per 100,000 population (national average 3.5).

Program type

More than two-thirds (4,909 beds or 69.6%) of all public sector specialised mental health hospital beds across Australia were in Acute services during 2015–16 (Figure FAC.3).

The proportion of acute beds differed among the target population groups. The majority of Child and adolescent beds (88.1%), General beds (71.7%), Youth beds (100.0%) and Older person beds (68.1%) were in Acute services in 2015–16, compared with less than half of Forensic beds (45.4%).

Residential mental health service beds

There were 2,383 residential mental health service beds nationally in 2015–16. These can be further characterised by the level of staffing provided, target population and the service operator (government or non-government), reflecting the service profile mix for each state or territory.

The total number of beds in government operated services was 1,470 (62.5 %), in 2015–16. Three quarters (1,757 or 73.7%) of all residential beds were operated with mental health trained staff working in active shifts for 24 hours a day, with the majority of these beds in government operated services (1,450 beds). In contrast, non-24-hour staffed residential beds were predominately provided by the non-government sector. More than two-thirds (1,642 beds or 68.9%) of all residential beds were in General services with more of these beds in 24-hour staffed facilities (1,108 or 67.5%) than in non-24-hour staffed facilities (534 or 32.5%).

Nationally there were 9.9 residential mental health beds per 100,000 population, in 2015–16. Of those jurisdictions reporting residential mental health beds, Tasmania (35.5) had the highest number per 100,000 population, while New South Wales (1.8) had the lowest (Figure FAC.5). Queensland does not report residential mental health services.  Refer to the data source section for further information.

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities tables 2015–16 tables (529KB XLS)

Victoria (56.7) had the highest number of residential mental health beds per 100,000 population in Older persons 24-hour staffed care services. Tasmania had the highest number of residential beds per 100,000 population in General services for both 24-hour staffed care (24.7) and non-24-hour staffed care (24.3). New South Wales (0.6 beds per 100,000 population) was the only state or territory that reported residential mental health service beds for Child and adolescent services in 2015–16. Data for Youth services are reported separately for the third time in this data release, with Western Australia (5.3 beds per 100,000 population), Victoria (16.3), and the Australian Capital Territory (20.5) reporting specialised Youth services.

24-hour staffed public sector care

Mental health services with staff employed in active shifts for 24 hours a day are provided through either public sector specialised mental health hospital services (inpatient care) or 24-hour staffed residential mental health services. Comparisons between states and territories are possible if data for these different types of 24‑hour staffing are combined.

Victoria had the highest number of 24-hour staffed public sector beds per 100,000 population (41.2) in 2015–16, followed closely by South Australia (39.4), while the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest (30.5), compared with a national average of 36.7 (Figure FAC.6).

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities tables 2015–16 tables (529KB XLS)

Private hospital specialised mental health beds

There were 2,754 available beds (11.5 per 100,000 population) in private psychiatric hospitals in 2015–16, including specialised units or wards in private hospitals.

Available beds over time

The number of public sector specialised mental health hospital and residential mental health service beds increased from 9,056 beds in 2011–12 to 9,440 beds in 2015–16. The combined number of hospital and residential specialised mental health beds per 100,000 population remained relatively stable across the 2011–12 to 2015–16 period, from 40.2 beds per 100,000 population in 2011–12 to 39.3 in 2015–16.

Public sector specialised mental health hospital beds

There was a decrease in the number of public sector psychiatric hospital beds from 1,873 beds in 2011–12 to 1,698 beds in 2015–16. This was offset by an increase in the number of beds in specialised psychiatric units or wards in public acute hospitals over the same period (from 4,836 beds in 2011–12 to 5,360 beds in 2015–16). Overall, the number of hospital beds per 100,000 population has remained stable over the same period, with approximately 30 beds per 100,000 population across the 5-year period from 2011–12 to 2015–16.

Residential mental health service beds

The number of specialised residential mental health service beds increased over the 5 years from 2,347 beds in 2011–12 to 2,383 beds in 2015–16, however, residential beds per 100,000 population remained stable at around 10.

Supported housing places

In addition to the services described above, jurisdictions also provide supported housing places for people with a mental illness. There were 5,351 supported housing places available in 2015–16 for people with a mental illness. Western Australia (61.0) had the highest number of supported housing places per 100,000 population, compared with the national average of 22.3 places. Caution should be exercised when comparing rates across jurisdictions as not all jurisdictional mental health housing support schemes are in-scope for the Mental Health Establishment NMDS. See data source section for further information.

Patient days

Public sector specialised mental health hospital services

Around 2.2 million patient days were provided by public hospital specialised mental health services during 2015–16. Almost three-quarters (75.3%) of all patient days were in specialised psychiatric units or wards in public acute hospitals, mirroring the beds for this service type. New South Wales (113.5) had the highest number of patient days per 1,000 population, while the Northern Territory (42.3) had the lowest, compared with the national rate of 93.1.

Residential mental health services

Residential mental health services provided nearly 740,000 patient days during 2015–16. About two-thirds (73.2%) of all patient days were for residents of 24-hour staffed services. Tasmania (158.5) had the highest number of patient days per 100,000 population in General services, while New South Wales (7.3) had the lowest; compared with the national rate of 33.9.

Private hospital specialised mental health services

Specialised mental health services in private hospitals provided about 1,000,000 patient days during 2015–16, equating to 41.7 days per 1,000 population. However, in contrast with public sector services, this figure also includes same-day separations.

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