Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Mental health services in Australia., AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 22 January 2022
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Mental health services in Australia. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia
Mental health services in Australia. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 08 December 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Mental health services in Australia [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2022 Jan. 22]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Mental health services in Australia, viewed 22 January 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/mental-health-services/mental-health-services-in-australia
Get citations as an Endnote file:
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 2018–19 period, constant prices are adjusted to 2018–19 levels, including more recent 2019–20 Australian Government Medicare expenditure and mental health-related medications subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) expenditure data, where data is presented in time series. Further information on health expenditure is also available in Health expenditure Australia 2018–19 (AIHW 2020).
Expenditure on mental health-related services 2018–19 tables (518KB XLSX)
Expenditure on mental health-related services 2018–19 section (348KB PDF)
Expenditure on mental health-related services interactive data
Data source and key concepts related to this section
Data coverage includes the time period 1992–93 to 2018–19. Australian Government Medicare expenditure and mental health-related medications subsidised under the PBS and RPBS expenditure data for 2019–20 in this section were last updated in May 2021.
$1.4 billion, or $52 per Australian, was spent by the Australian Government on benefits for Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services in 2019–20.
$566 million, or $22 per Australian, was spent by the Australian Government on subsidised mental health-related prescriptions under the PBS/RPBS during 2019–20.
In 2018–19, the national recurrent expenditure on mental health-related services was estimated to be $10.6 billion. This represents an annual average increase of 3.1% since 2014–15, adjusted for inflation. Overall, national expenditure on mental health-related services increased from $396 per Australian in 2014–15 to $420 per person during 2018–19, adjusted for inflation; an average annual increase of 1.5%.
Of the $10.6 billion spent nationally in 2018–19, state and territory governments funded 60.4% ($6.4 billion), the Australian Government 34.1% ($3.6 billion), and private health insurance funds and other third party insurers 5.5% ($584 million). These proportions have remained relatively stable over time, with 59.5% of national spending coming from state and territory governments, 35.7% from the Australian Government, and 4.8% from private health insurance funds and other third party insurers in 2014–15.
Government expenditure on mental health-related services in 2018–19 was estimated to be around 7.8% of total government health expenditure, steady from 2014–15 but an increase from 7.3% in 1992–93 when data collection began.
Funding from the Australian Government for mental health-related services (adjusted for inflation) has increased by an average annual rate of 2.1% over the period 2014–15 to 2018–19, while funding from state and territory governments increased by an average annual rate of 3.4%.
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 Carer Allowance. The Australian Government mental health-related expenditure in 2012–13 was estimated to be $9.6 billion (in current terms), compared to $2.8 billion using the methodology employed in this publication, as outlined in the data source section. More recently, the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Mental Health examined the costs to governments, individuals and insurers of mental healthcare and related services, including broader services such as housing, employment and education as well as expenditure on treatment, research, and promotion and prevention. The Productivity Commission estimated this cost in 2018–19 was $15.5 billion (Productivity Commission 2020), compared to $10.6 billion in this report.
Around $6.5 billion was spent on state and territory specialised mental health services in 2018–19. The largest proportion of this recurrent expenditure was spent on public hospital services for admitted patients ($2.8 billion), comprising of public acute hospitals with a specialist psychiatric unit or ward ($2.2 billion) and public psychiatric hospitals (almost $0.6 billion). This was closely followed by expenditure on community mental health care services totalling $2.4 billion.
Per capita expenditure on specialised mental health services ranged from $241 per person in Queensland to $325 per person in Western Australia, compared to a national average of $257 per person during 2018–19.
Per capita expenditure on state and territory specialised mental health services, adjusted for inflation, increased by an average annual rate of 1.5% between 2014–15 and 2018–19. This equates to an increase of about $16 per person, from about $241 in 2014–15 to about $257 in 2018–19.
Detailed expenditure data are available covering more than 25 years to 2018–19. Figure EXP.1 shows the changes in state and territory spending patterns, for example, increased investment in community mental health care services, reflecting changes to the state and territory specialised mental health service profile mix over this time. Further information can be found in the Specialised mental health care facilities section.
Source data: Expenditure on mental health-related services 2018–19 tables (518KB XLSX)
The majority (96.7% or $6.2 billion of the $6.5 billion total cost) of funding for state and territory specialised mental health services was provided by state and territory governments in 2018–19. However, this estimate does not take into account the Australian Government payments to states and territories for the running of public hospital services which includes the community-based clinical services managed by public hospitals. Refer to the data source section for technical information regarding Australian Government expenditure.
The $2.8 billion of recurrent expenditure for public sector specialised mental health hospital services during 2018–19 equates to an average cost per patient day of $1,254. The Northern Territory ($1,679) had the highest average cost per patient day, while the average cost in Queensland ($1,080) 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.
Mental health services classified as having a General target population ($2.1 billion or 72.5%) accounted for the majority of recurrent expenditure for public sector specialised mental health hospital services during 2018–19. Child and adolescent services ($2,366 per patient day) had the highest cost per patient day, continuing a long term trend of these services costing more to run than services with General target population ($1,229 per patient day), Older person ($1,101 per patient day) and Forensic ($1,304 per patient day) services.
There was an average annual increase in expenditure per patient day for General (2.3%), Child and adolescent (2.0%), Older person services (4.6%), and Forensic services (3.0%) between 2014–15 and 2018–19, adjusted for inflation.
Average patient day costs for acute public sector specialised mental health hospital services at the national level were higher than those for non-acute services for all target population categories in 2018–19.
Community mental health care services accounted for $2.4 billion of recurrent expenditure on mental health services during 2018–19, representing 37.9% of total state/territory expenditure.
Of the $404 million spent on residential mental health services during 2018–19, the majority was spent on 24-hour staffed services ($363 million or 89.9%). General services ($289 million) accounted for more than two thirds (71.4%) of the total residential expenditure.
The average national cost per patient day for residential mental health services was $522 per day in 2018–19. Average costs varied between states and territories, ranging from $353 per patient day in Western Australia to $680 per patient day in the Northern Territory.
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 ($252 per person) was the highest of the 5 target populations during 2018–19, 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, General, Child and adolescent and Forensic services have had moderate per capita expenditure increases between 2014–15 and 2018–19 while per capita expenditure on Youth services increased by an average of 9.0% per year. Over this time period, per capita expenditure on Older person services decreased by an average of 0.5% per year, which reflects the fact that Older persons services have not increased to the same extent as the increases in the size of the Older persons population. For example, while the adjusted expenditure on Older person services had an annual average increase of 2.8% to $618 million between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the Older person population (65 years and over) increased by 13.7% to 4.0 million people over the same period.
Total revenue for specialised mental health private hospital services was $791 million in 2018–19, and the non-federal Government sourced component of this revenue was $584 million. Adjusted for inflation, these represent annual average increases from 2014–15 of 6.5% and 6.9% per year respectively. Expenditure on specialised mental health services in private hospitals has not been available since 2017–18 due to changes in how the data is collected (see below), however historically this has been about 80% of revenue (averaged over 25 years), and was about 78% in 2016–17.
In previous years, estimates of expenditure on specialised mental health services in private hospitals were derived from the annual Private Health Establishment Collection (PHEC) undertaken annually by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The PHEC was discontinued after 2016–17. Commencing 2017–18, estimates of private psychiatric hospital care are based on the Private Psychiatric Hospitals Data Reporting and Analysis Service (PPHDRAS), a collection jointly funded by the Australian Private Hospitals Association and the Australian Government Department of Health. More information can be found in the data source section.
The browser you are using to browse this website is outdated and some features may not display properly or be accessible to you. Please use a more recent browser for the best user experience.