Specialised mental health services expenditure

State and territory specialised mental health services

Recurrent expenditure

Around $5.4 billion was spent on state and territory specialised mental health services in 2015–16. The largest proportion of this recurrent expenditure was spent on public hospital services for admitted patients ($2.4 billion), comprising public acute hospitals with a specialist psychiatric unit or ward ($1.8 billion) and public psychiatric hospitals ($0.6 billion). This was closely followed by expenditure on community mental health care services totalling $2.0 billion.

Per person expenditure on specialised mental health services ranged from $197 per person in Victoria to $299 per person in Western Australia, compared to the national average of $227 per person during 2015–16.

Expenditure on state and territory specialised mental health services, adjusted for inflation, increased by an average annual rate of 2.3% between 2011–12 and 2015–16. This equates to an increase of $6 per person, from $220 in 2011–12 to $227 in 2015–16.

Detailed expenditure data are available covering 24 years to 2015–16. The data in Figure EXP.1 illustrates the change in spending patterns; a reflection of changes to the state and territory specialised mental health service profile mix over this time, for example, increased investment in community mental health care services (see the related Specialised mental health care facilities section).

Source data: Expenditure on mental health services (510KB XLS).

Funding

The majority (95.2% or $5.2 billion of the $5.4 billion total cost) of funding for state and territory specialised mental health services was provided by state or territory governments in 2015–16, with a further 2.7% ($146 million) provided by the Australian Government, and 2.1% ($115 million) from patients and other revenues and recoveries. However, these funding estimates do not take into account the Australian Government payments to states/territories for the running of public hospitals (see the data source section for technical information regarding Australian Government expenditure).

Public sector specialised mental health hospital services

The $2.4 billion of recurrent expenditure for public sector specialised mental health hospital services during 2015–16 equates to an average cost per patient day of $1,074. The Northern Territory ($2,082) had the highest average cost per patient day, while the average cost in Victoria ($913) was the lowest.

Recurrent expenditure on public sector specialised mental health hospital services can be further described using target population (General, Child and adolescent, Youth, Older person and Forensic target groups), program type (acute and non-acute) or a combination of these.

Target population program type

Mental health services classified as General target population ($1.8 billion or 73.2%) accounted for the majority of recurrent expenditure for public sector specialised mental health hospital services during 2015–16. Child and adolescent services ($2,116 per patient day) had the highest costs per patient day, continuing a long term trend of these services costing more than General target population ($1,070 per patient day), Older person ($891 per patient day) and Forensic ($1,066 per patient day) services. Expenditure per patient day for all target population categories increased by an average of between 0.2% and 3.7% each year since 2011–12, adjusted for inflation.

Average patient day costs for acute public sector specialised mental health hospital services were more expensive than those for non-acute services for General and Older persons services in 2015–16. The average patient day costs were higher in non-acute units compared to acute unit for Child and adolescent and Forensic public sector specialised mental health hospital services.

Community mental health care services

Community mental health care services accounted for $2.0 billion of recurrent expenditure on mental health services during 2015–16, representing 37.6% of total state/territory expenditure in 2015–16.

Residential mental health services

Of the $304 million spent on residential mental health services during 2015–16, the majority was spent on 24-hour staffed services ($263 million or 86.3%). General services ($210 million) accounted for more than two thirds (68.9%) of the total residential expenditure.

The average national cost per patient day for residential mental health services was $411 per day in 2015–16. Average costs varied between states and territories, ranging from $284 per patient day in New South Wales to $712 per patient day in the Northern Territory. Queensland does not report residential mental health services.

Expenditure by target population

Recurrent expenditure for public sector specialised mental health hospital, community and residential services can be combined and presented by target population. Expenditure on General services ($223 per person) was the highest of the 5 target populations during 2015–16, reflecting that many jurisdictions do not have the other specialised target population hospital services which contribute substantial costs to the overall expenditure profile. Adjusted for inflation, per capita expenditure on Child and adolescent services increased by an average of 0.5% per year between 2011–12 and 2015–16 whilst per capita expenditure on Older person services decreased by an average of 3.3% over the 5 years to 2015–16. This was the only target population to record an overall decrease in per capita expenditure over this time period.

Private hospital specialised mental health services

Adjusted for inflation, expenditure on specialised mental health services in private hospitals increased from $370 million to $493 million between 2011–12 and 2015–16. Per person expenditure increased from $16 per person to $21 per person during this time, an annual average change of 5.7%.