Mental health-specific services

Services

There were 12.1 million Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services provided to 2.7 million Australians in   2018–19. Further details of the characteristics of these services are described below. Victoria (539.7 services per 1,000 state specific population) had the highest rate of services, and Northern Territory (156.4) had the lowest, considerably lower than the national rate (480.8) (Figure MBS.4).

Figure  MBS.4: Rate (per 1,000 population) of Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services, by states and territories, 2018-19.

Vertical bar graph showing the Medicare-subsidised mental health specific service rate (per 1,000 population), by state or territory in 2018–19. Victoria (539.7 per 1,000 population) and Queensland (515.0) had the highest rate of services per 1,000 population, greater than the national total (480.8). Of the remaining states or territories, New South Wales had 456.3 services per 1,000 population, followed by South Australia (447.3), Tasmania (441.0), Western Australia (417.7), Australian Capital Territory (397.3), and Northern Territory (156.4). Refer to Table MBS.8.

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Source data: Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services tables (142KB XLS)

In 2018–19, Australians aged 35–44 years had the highest rate of Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific service use (65.1 services per 100 age specific population); people aged 0–4 years (3.2) had the lowest usage rate. Females had a higher rate of service usage than males (59.3 and 36.6 services per 100 sex specific population, respectively). People living in Major Cities had the highest rate of service use (52.1 per 100 remoteness area population), with rates decreasing by remoteness to 8.6 for Very remote (Figure MBS.5).

Figure MBS.5: Rate (per 100  population) of Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services accessed by patients, by patient demographics, 2018-19.

Horizontal bar graph showing the rates of Medicare-subsidised mental health services per 100 population by demographics in 2018–19. Service use in 2018–19 was lowest among patients aged 0–4 years (3.2 services per 100 population), increasing for people aged 5–11 years (29.7), 12–17 years (55.5); highest for ages 18–24 years (63.8), 25–34 years (61.8) and 35–44 years (65.1); and then gradually decreasing for the age groups 45–54 years (59.7), 55–64 years (49.4), 65–74 years (31.4), 75–84 years (21.4), and 85 years over (12.4). By sex, females accessed a greater number of services 59.3 per 100 population compared with males at 36.6. For remoteness area, the highest service rate was seen in Major cities (52.1 per 100 population) with service rates decreasing as remoteness increased: Inner regional (45.4), Outer regional (31.1), Remote (18.0) and Very remote (8.6). Refer to Table MBS.10.

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Source data: Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services tables (142KB XLS)

Average number of services per patient

In 2018–19, patients in the Northern Territory had the lowest average number of Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services per patient (2.9), compared with the national average of 4.5 services per patient. All other states and territories averaged between 4.3 and 4.8 services per patient. People aged 55–64 years had the highest average number of services per patient (4.9) among the age groups and patients aged 0–4 years (2.9) had the lowest. Females (4.7) averaged more services per patient than males (4.3).

Over time

The total number of Medicare-subsidised mental-health specific services increased from 6.2 million in 2008–09 to 12.1 million in 2018–19; an increase from 290.1 services per 1,000 population in 2008–09 to 480.8 in 2018–19 (Figure MBS.6). The increase in the rate of services was mostly due to increases in services provided by GPs (increase of 2.1 million from 2008–09 to 2018–19), followed by Psychological Therapy Services involving clinical psychologists (1.5 million), and other psychology services involving clinical psychologists and other psychologists (1.4 million). There was only a marginal increase in the rate of Medicare-subsidised mental health specific services delivered by psychiatrists; for all other providers there were increases in the rate of services delivered in recent years. The number of patients per provider has increased over time while the number of services per patient has fallen. Further information on the new items that were added under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access) initiative in 2006–07 can be found in the data source section.

Figure MBS.6:  Rate (per 1,000 population) for Medicare-subsidised mental health-specific services, by provider type 2008-09  to 2018-19.

Vertical bar graph showing the service use rate per 1,000 population for Medicare-subsidised mental health services by provider from 2008–09 to 2018–19. The rate of services provided by psychiatrists increased from 91.6 per 1,000 population in 2008–09 to 97.4 per 1,000 population in 2018–19, GPs 75.5 per 1,000 population to 148.4 per 1,000 population, clinical psychologists 42.1 per 1,000 population to 96.2 per 1,000 population, other psychologists 73.8 per 1,000 population to 120.4 per 1,000 population, and other allied health professionals 7.0 per 1,000 population to 18.2 per 1,000 population. Refer to Table MBS.12.

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