Patient characteristics

Patient demographics

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients comprised 9.7% of community mental health care patients in 2017–18. 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) (see Figure CMHC.3).

People living in Major cities make up the majority of the patient population receiving community mental health services (63.3%), however, when the population was taken into account, the rate for those living in Major cities (15.3 per 1,000 population) was the lowest of the remoteness areas of usual residence. Patients living in Very remote areas had the highest rate per 1,000 population (36.7) (Figure CMHC.3).

People living in the least disadvantaged areas (socioeconomic quintile 5) had the lowest service rate (11.5 per 1,000 population). This rate increased with increasing socioeconomic disadvantage, with patients living in the most disadvantaged areas (socioeconomic quintile 1) receiving services at the highest rate (22.8 per 1,000 population) (Figure CMHC.3). 

 

Figure CMHC.3 Alternative text - Source data: Community mental health care services tables (745KB XLS).

The highest rate of service contacts in 2017–18 was for patients aged 12–17 (656.7 per 1,000 population). The two youngest age groups (0–4 years and 5–11 years) had the lowest number of contacts per 1,000 population (16.9 and 137.9 per 1,000 population respectively).

In 2017–18, males accessed services at a higher rate (388.9 service contacts per 1,000 population) than females (367.7). The highest male contact rate was reported for the 35–44 age group (630.6 per 1,000 population), while for females the highest contact rate was for the 12–17 age group (872.5).

Principal diagnosis

The principal diagnosis recorded for patients who have a community mental health care service contact is based on the broad categories listed in the Mental and behavioural disorders chapter (Chapter 5) of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision, Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM edition). The data quality statement for the CMHC NMDS has further information on principal diagnosis data quality issues.

Of the 5 most commonly reported specific mental health-related principal diagnoses in 2017–18, Schizophrenia (ICD-10-AM code F20; 22.4%) was the most frequently recorded (Figure CMHC.4). This was followed by Depressive episode (F32; 6.8%) and Schizoaffective disorder (F25; 6.0%). A principal diagnosis was reported for about 8 out of 10 (almost 8.0 million) of all community mental health care service contacts.

 

Figure CMHC.4 Alternative text - Source data: Community mental health care services tables (7485KB XLS).

Most commonly reported specific principal diagnosis: Schizophrenia

Among patients with a principal diagnosis of Schizophrenia, those aged 35–44 received the greatest number of community mental health care contacts (526,431 or 29.5%).

Males with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia received services at a higher rate (101.8 service contacts per 1,000) than females (42.8 service contacts per 1,000) in 2017–18. As illustrated in Figure CMHC.5, when service contact rates are considered by both age group and sex, the highest rate of contacts was for males aged 35–44 years (243.0 contacts per 1,000 population). The difference between males and females is most likely due to the observed sex difference in prevalence of Schizophrenia. The Prevalence, impact and burden section has further information.

 

Figure CMHC.5 Alternative text - Source data:  Community mental health care services tables (745KB XLS).

Other most commonly reported principal diagnoses

The other commonly reported principal diagnoses also differed by age group and sex in 2017–18:

  • Schizophrenia was the most commonly reported principal diagnosis for service contacts among patients aged 25–34, 35–44, 45–54 and 55–64. For all other age groups the most common diagnosis was Mental disorder not otherwise specified (F99).
  • Depressive episode was the most commonly reported specific principal diagnosis (F00–F98) for service contacts among patients aged 75–84 and 85 years and over. Rates of service contacts for Depressive episode were highest for females in the 12–17 age group (67.4 contacts per 1,000 population).
  • For patients with a principal diagnosis of Schizoaffective disorders, males and females aged 35–44 had the highest rate of service contacts (42.3 and 41.7 per 1,000 population).
  • Females with a diagnosis of Bipolar affective disorder received service contacts at a slightly higher rate than males (19.5 and 14.2 service contacts per 1,000 population).
  • Rates of service contacts for patients with the stress-related disorder - Reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorder were highest for females in the 12–17 age group at 77.3 per 1,000 population, almost three times the service contact rate for males of the same age group (27.9 per 1,000 population).