Expenditure on mental health-related services

This section reviews the available information on recurrent expenditure (running costs) for mental health‑related services in Australia. Health expenditure (what was spent) and health funding (funding provided and who provided the funds) are distinct but related concepts essential to understanding the financial resources used by the health system. Data on expenditure and funding, calculated in both current and constant prices, are derived from a variety of sources, as outlined in the data source section.

As most data presented is for the 2017–18 period, constant prices are adjusted to 2017–18 levels, including more recent 2018–19 Australian Government Medicare expenditure and mental health-related medications subsidised under the PBS and RPBS expenditure data, where data is presented in time series. Further information on health expenditure is also available in Health expenditure Australia 2017–18 (AIHW 2019).

Data downloads:

Expenditure on mental health-related services 2017–18 tables (496KB XLS)

Expenditure on mental health-related services 2017–18 section (513KB)

Data coverage includes the time period 1992–93 to 2017–18. Data in this section were last updated in January 2020.

Key points

 

  • $9.9 billion, or $400 per person, was spent on mental health-related services in Australia during 2017–18, a real increase from $382 per person in 2013–14.
  • 1.1% annual average increase in the real per capita spending on mental health-related services from
    2013–14 to 2017–18.
  • 7.6% of government health expenditure was spent on mental health-related services in 2017–18.
  • $6.0 billion was spent on state/territory mental health services in 2017–18; $2.6b on public hospital services; $2.3b on community services.
  • $1.3 billion, or $51 per person, was spent by the Australian Government on benefits for Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services in 2018–19.
  • $541 million, or $21 per person, was spent by the Australian Government on subsidised mental health-related prescriptions under the PBS/RPBS during 2018–19.

Overview

The national recurrent expenditure on mental health-related services was estimated to be around $9.9 billion in
2017–18. Overall, national expenditure on mental health-related services increased from $382 per person in 2013–14 to $400 per person during 2017–18, adjusted for inflation; an average annual increase of 1.1%.

Of the $9.9 billion spent nationally in 2017–18, state and territory governments funded 60.6% ($6.0 billion), the Australian Government 33.9% ($3.4 billion), and private health insurance funds and other third party insurers 5.5% ($544 million). These proportions have remained relatively stable over time, with 59.1% of national spending coming from state and territory governments, 36.4% from the Australian Government, and 4.5% from private health insurance funds and other third party insurers in 2013–14.

Government expenditure on mental health-related services in 2017–18 was estimated to be around 7.6% of total government health expenditure, which is a small decrease from 7.8% in 2013–14.

Funding from the Australian Government for mental health-related services (adjusted for inflation) has increased by an average annual rate of 1.0% over the period 2013–14 to 2017–18, while funding from state and territory governments increased by an average annual rate of 3.2%.

The National Mental Health Commission’s 2014 Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services (NMHC 2014) used a broader methodology to estimate Australian Government expenditure on mental health. The methodology included broader mental health-related costs, such as the Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment and allowances. The Australian Government mental health-related expenditure in 2012–13 was estimated to be $9.6 billion, compared to $2.8 billion using the methodology employed in this publication, as outlined in the data source section.