Residential mental health care

Residential mental health care services provide specialised mental health care on an overnight basis in a domestic-like environment. Residential mental health services may include rehabilitation, treatment or extended care. They are described in this section using data from the National Residential Mental Health Care Database (NRMHCD). The scope for this collection is all episodes of care in all government-funded residential mental health services in Australia, except those residential care services that are in receipt of funding under the Aged Care Act 1997 and subject to other Commonwealth reporting requirements. The inclusion of non‑government-operated services in receipt of government funding is optional.

For information related to staffing, beds and the number of residential care facilities that provide specialised mental health care, visit the Specialised mental health care facilities section. More information about the coverage and data quality of this collection can be found in the data source section.

Data downloads:

Residential mental health care 2017–18 tables (210KB XLS)

Residential mental health care 2017–18 section (665KB)

Data in this section were last updated in October 2019.

Key points

  • There were 7,713 episodes of residential care recorded for 5,973 residents in 2017–18. This equates to an average of 1.3 episodes of care per resident and 48 residential care days per episode.
  • The estimated rate of residents per 10,000 population increased from 0.8 in 2005–06 to 2.4 in 2017–18. The rate of episodes per 10,000 population increased from 1.2 to 3.1 over the same period.
  • Residents with an involuntary mental health legal status accounted for 20.0% of episodes with a valid legal status recorded in 2017–18, down from 28.8% in 2005–06.
  • Schizophrenia (26.9%) was the most commonly recorded principal diagnosis for residents undergoing residential episodes of care, followed by Specific personality disorders (11.9%) and Schizoaffective disorders (9.2%) in 2017–18.
  • The most common length of stay for a completed residential episode was 2 weeks or less (50.1% of episodes completed on or before 30 June 2018) in 2017–18, with 2.0% of episodes lasting longer than 1 year.

Service provision

States and territories

Nationally there were 7,713 continuing and completed episodes of residential care in 2017–18, with 370,592 residential care days provided to an estimated 5,973 residents. This equates to an average of 1.3 episodes of care per resident and 48 residential care days per episode.

Tasmania reported the highest rate of residents (9.9 per 10,000 population) and the highest rate of episodes of care (17.9 per 10,000 population) in 2017–18 (Figure RMHC.1). New South Wales had the lowest rate for both episodes and residents (0.2 and 0.2 per 10,000 population). These data reflect the varying residential care components of the mental health service profile mix of each jurisdiction (additional information can be found in the Specialised mental health care facilities section).

Nationally, the rate of residential care days was 149.6 per 10,000 population in 2017–18, with Tasmania reporting the highest rate (1,192.8) and Western Australia reporting the lowest (11.1).