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 2016–17 period, constant prices are adjusted to 2016–17 levels, including more recent 2017–18 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 2016–17 (AIHW 2018).

Data downloads:

Expenditure on mental health-related services 2016-17 tables (474KB XLS)

Expenditure on mental health-related services 2016-17 section (544KB)

Data coverage includes the time period 1992–93 to 2016–17. This section was last updated in March 2019.

Key points

  • $9.1 billion, or $375 per person, was spent on mental health-related services in Australia during 2016–17, a real increase from $359 per person in 2012–13.
  • 1.1% annual average increase in the real per capita spending on mental health-related services from 2012–13 to 2016–17.
  • 7.4% of government health expenditure was spent on mental health-related services in 2016–17.
  • $5.7 billion was spent on state/territory mental health services in 2016–17; $2.6b on public hospital services; $2.1b on community services.
  • $536 million was spent on specialised mental health services in private hospitals in 2016–17.
  • $1.2 billion, or $49 per person, was spent by the Australian Government on benefits for Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services in 2017–18.
  • $534 million, or $22 per person, was spent by the Australian Government on subsidised mental health-related prescriptions under the PBS/RPBS during 2017–18.

Overview

The national recurrent expenditure on mental health-related services was estimated to be around $9.1 billion in 2016–17. Overall, national expenditure on mental health-related services increased from $359 per person in 2012–13 to $375 per person during 2016–17, adjusted for inflation; an average annual increase of 1.1%.

Of the $9.1 billion spent nationally in 2016–17, state and territory governments funded 61.6% ($5.6 billion), the Australian Government 32.9% ($3.0 billion) and private health insurance funds 5.6% ($508 million). These proportions have remained relatively stable over time, with 59.4% of national spending coming from state and territory governments, 36.5% from the Australian Government and 4.1% from private health insurance funds in 2012–13.

Government expenditure on mental health-related services in 2016–17 was estimated to be around 7.4% of total government health expenditure, which is a small decrease from 7.7% in 2012–13.

Funding from the Australian Government for mental health-related services (adjusted for inflation) has increased by an average annual rate of 0.8% over the period 2012–13 to 2016–17, while funding from state and territory governments increased by an average annual rate of 3.1%.

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.