Mental health workforce

A variety of health care and social care professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, general practitioners and social workers, provide a range of mental health-related services to Australians. The workforce data for this section is sourced from the National Health Workforce Data Set (NHWDS), which comprises data about employed health professionals collected through annual registration surveys administered by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) since 2010. For further details on the NHWDS and survey arrangements prior to July 2010 visit the data source section. Data on the size and selected characteristics of the workforce is available for the following health care professionals who work principally in mental health care and related areas:

  • psychiatrists
  • mental health nurses
  • registered psychologists.

For a different view of the workforce employed by state and territory specialised mental health care facilities visit the facilities section.

Data downloads:

Mental health workforce 2016 tables (1.7MB XLS)

Mental health workforce 2016 section (547KB)

Data coverage includes the time period 2007–08 to 2015–16. Data in this section were last updated in July 2018.

Key points

  • 9.9% of all employed specialist medical practitioners were psychiatrists in 2016.
  • 14,914 women and 6,644 men were employed as mental health nurses in 2016.
  • 47.4 hours, on average, is worked per week by psychiatrists in Remote areas compared to 38.9 for those in Major cities.
  • 6.4 hours more per week was worked by male than female psychiatrists, on average, in 2016.
  • 58.8% of all employed mental health nurses were aged 45 or over.

The number of psychiatrists, mental health nurses and registered psychologists, and the average total hours and clinical hours worked are reported in this section. To provide a meaningful comparison, both full-time-equivalent (FTE) and clinical FTE figures have been reported. The FTE measures the number of standard hour week workloads completed, regardless of full-time or part-time working hours. By convention, a standard working week is defined as 38 hours for mental health nurses and registered psychologists and 40 hours for psychiatrists. At the time of writing, the National Health Workforce Data Tool.

Clinical FTE figures and average clinical hours worked provide measures of the time psychiatrists, mental health nurses and registered psychologists spent working in a direct clinical role.