Patient and service contact characteristics

Demographics

In 2018–19, a similar proportion of community mental health care patients were males or females (49.1% and 50.9% respectively). However, males accessed services at a slightly higher rate than females (392.9 and 365.7 per 1,000 population respectively). People aged 12–17 years accounted for the highest rate of both community mental health care patients (33.6 per 1,000 population) and community mental health care service contacts (652.4 per 1,000 population).

People living in Major cities made up the majority of community mental health care patients (63.3%) and people living in Very remote areas made up the smallest proportion at 1.7%. However, the population adjusted rate per 1,000 population was highest for people living in Very remote areas (36.8) and people living in Major cities has the lowest rate per 1,000 population (15.6).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients comprised 10.3% of community mental health care patients in 2018–19, however the rate of Indigenous patients per 1,000 population was more than three times the rate of non‑Indigenous patients (53.8 compared to 16.1) (Figure CMHC.3).

Figure CMHC.3: Community mental health care service patients, by key demographics, 2018-19.

Horizontal bar chart showing the rates of community mental health care patients per 1,000 population, by demographic variables, 2018–19. The lowest rate of patients by age was seen for those aged 0–4 years (1.8 people per 1,000 age specific population) and the highest rate was for patients aged 12–17 years (33.6), followed by 18–24 years (27.6). Male and female patients had similar rates per 1,000 population (17.8 and 18.2 respectively). The highest rate of patients per 1,000 population by remoteness area was seen for patients living in Very remote areas (36.8), followed by Remote (33.3), Outer regional (25.0), Inner regional (21.2), and lowest for Major cities (15.6). The rate of patients per 1,000 population living in SEIFA Quintile 1 (most disadvantaged) was the highest of all quintiles (23.3), which decreased to 11.7 for Quintile 5 (least disadvantaged). (Refer to Table CMHC.8).

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Source data: Community mental health care services tables (187KB XLSX).

Principal diagnosis

In 2018–19, Schizophrenia was the most frequently recorded mental health related principal diagnosis for community mental health service contacts (21.9%) (Figure CMHC.4), followed by Depressive episode (6.6%), Schizoaffective disorders (6.1%) Bipolar affective disorders (5.1%) and Reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorders (5.0%). A principal diagnosis was reported for 8 out of 10 (8.1 million) community mental health care service contacts.

Figure CMHC.4: Proportion of community mental health care service contacts, for 5 of the most commonly reported mental health-related principal diagnoses, 2018-19.

Horizontal bar chart showing 5 of the most commonly reported specific principal diagnosis for community mental health care service contacts in 2018–19. The most frequently reported principal diagnosis was Schizophrenia (21.9%), followed by Depressive episode (6.6%), Schizoaffective disorders (6.1%), Bipolar affective disorders (5.1%), and Reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorders (5.0%) (Refer to Table CMHC.15).

Visualisation not available for printing

Source data: Community mental health care services tables (187KB XLSX).

Characteristics of service contacts

Type of service contacts

Community mental health care service contacts can be conducted as either individual or group sessions. Service contacts can also be face-to-face, via telephone, or using other forms of direct communication such as video link. They can be conducted in the presence of the patient, with a third party, such as a carer or family member, and/or other professional or mental health worker.

The majority of service contacts reported in 2018–19 involved individual contact sessions (94.7%) and 5.3% of contacts were group sessions. More than half of all contacts were individual sessions (52.2%), where the patient participated in the service contact (termed patient present).

Target population

Services targeted toward the General population made up 69.6% of all treatment days in 2018–19 followed by Child and adolescent (14.9%), Forensic (7.0%), Older person (6.9%), and Youth services (1.7%). Services targeted towards Forensic, Older person, and Youth populations accounted for much smaller proportions of treatment days than the General population and Child and adolescent services. These results largely mirror the relative size (as measured by the number of full-time-equivalent staff) for each of the community mental health care service target population categories at (Specialised mental heath care facilities section, Table FAC.41).

Duration of service contacts

The duration of community mental health care service contacts ranges from less than 5 minutes to over 3 hours. In 2018–19, the average service contact duration of sessions was 35 minutes. Nearly 4 in 10 contacts were 5–15 minutes in duration (39.2%, or 3.8 million) and almost 1 in 4 contacts were 16–30 minutes in duration (23.8%, or 2.3 million) (Figure CMHC.5). Service contacts with the patient present were on average twice as long in duration than service contacts where the patient was absent (average 46 and 23 minutes respectively).

Of the five most commonly reported principal diagnoses (Schizophrenia, Depressive episode, Bipolar affective disorders, Reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorders, and Schizoaffective disorders), Reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorders had the highest proportion of contacts lasting over 1 hour (13.8%).

 
Visualisation not available for printing

Source data:  Community mental health care services tables (187KB XLSX).

Mental health legal status

About 1 in 7 (14.0%, 1,314,493) community mental health care service contacts in 2018–19 involved a patient with an involuntary mental health legal status. Western Australia reported the lowest proportion of involuntary contacts (3.1%), while the Queensland reported the highest (24.3%) (Figure CMHC.6). These differences most likely reflect the different legislative arrangements in place amongst the jurisdictions. More information can be found in the CMHC NMDS Data quality statement.

In 2018–19, of the 5 most commonly reported principal diagnoses, the highest proportion of contacts involving a patient with an involuntary mental health legal status was seen for patients diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorders (38.3% involuntary), followed by Schizophrenia (34.0%), Bipolar affective disorder (20.1%), Depressive episode (2.7%), and Reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorders (1.9%).

Figure CHMC.6: Community metal health care service contacts, by principal diagnosis and mental health legal status, 2018-19.

Horizontal bar chart comparing the proportion of voluntary and involuntary contacts for 5 of the most commonly reported principal diagnoses in 2018–19. Schizoaffective disorders (61.7% voluntary and 38.3% involuntary); Schizophrenia (66.0% voluntary and 34.0% involuntary); Bipolar affective disorders (79.9% voluntary and 20.1% involuntary); Depressive episode (97.3% voluntary and 2.7% involuntary); Reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorders (98.1% voluntary and 1.9% involuntary). Refer to Table CMHC.27.

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