Data source

Mental health-related emergency department data

All state and territory health authorities collect a core set of nationally comparable information on emergency department (ED) presentations (including mental health-related emergency department presentations) in public hospitals within their jurisdiction. The AIHW compiles these data annually to form the National Non-Admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Database (NNAPEDCD). In 2016–17, 287 of Australia’s public hospital emergency departments reported emergency department presentations to the NNAPEDCD (AIHW 2017).

Previously, diagnosis-related information was not included in the NNAPEDCD, therefore, states and territories provided the AIHW with a bespoke analysis of mental health-related emergency department presentations. Data on principal diagnosis—that is, the diagnosis chiefly responsible for occasioning the presentation to the emergency department—has subsequently been included in the NNAPEDCD. In this report, data from 2014–15 and 2016–17 are sourced from the NNAPEDCD. Data from previous years was sourced directly from jurisdictions through an annual ad-hoc data request.

Definition of mental health-related emergency department presentations

Mental health-related ED presentations in this report are defined as presentations in public hospital EDs that have a principal diagnosis of Mental and behavioural disorders (that is, codes F00–F99) in ICD-10-AM or the equivalent codes in ICD-9-CM.

For 2016–17, diagnosis information is reported for the NNAPEDCD using the following classifications:

  • Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine—Clinical Terms—Australian version, Emergency Department Reference Set (SNOMED CT-AU (EDRS))
  • International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) 2nd edition
  • International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision, Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM) 6th edition, 7th edition, 8th edition or 9th edition.

The AIHW undertook to map all diagnosis information to a single classification. Further information on the mapping is available in Appendix B of the AIHW’s Emergency Department Care 2016–17: Australian hospital statistics (AIHW 2017).

The Mental and behavioural disorders principal diagnosis codes may not fully capture all mental health-related presentations to EDs, such as presentations for self-harm. Diagnosis codes for intentional self-harm sit outside the Mental and behavioural disorders chapter (X60-X84). Additionally, a presentation for self-harm may have a principal diagnosis relating to the injury, for example Open wound to wrist and hand. These presentations cannot be identified as mental health-related presentations in the NNAPEDCD and are not included in this report.

Further information on NNAPEDCD is available on METeOR, the AIHW’s Metadata Online Registry.


In 2016–17, 287 of Australia’s public hospital emergency departments reported emergency department presentations to the (AIHW 2017).


ABS 2017. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian demographic statistics. March 2017. Cat. No. 3101.0. Canberra: ABS

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2017. Emergency department care 2016–17: Australian hospital statistics. Health services series no. 80. Cat. no. HSE 194. Canberra: AIHW.

AIHW 2016. Emergency department care 2015–16: Australian hospital statistics. Health services series no. 72. Cat. no. HSE 182. Canberra: AIHW.

Morphet J, Innes K, Munro I, O'Brien A, Gaskin CJ, Reed F et al. 2012. Managing people with mental health presentations in emergency departments—A service exploration of the issues surrounding responsiveness from a mental health care consumer and carer perspective. Australasian Emergency Nursing Journal 15:148-55.