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, can be found in 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 2016–17 tables (124KB XLS)

Residential mental health care 2016–17 section (546KB)

Data coverage includes the time period 2005–06 to 2016–17. This section was last updated in October 2018.

Key points

  • There were 7,290 episodes of residential care recorded for 5,476 residents in 2016–17. This equates to an average of 1.3 episodes of care per resident and 40 residential care days per episode.
  • The estimated rate of residents per 10,000 population increased from 0.8 in 2005–06 to 2.2 in 2016–17. The rate of episodes per 10,000 population increased from 1.2 to 3.0 over the same period.
  • Residents with an involuntary mental health legal status accounted for 19.0% of episodes with a valid legal status recorded in 2016–17, down from 28.8% in 2005–06.
  • Schizophrenia (24.3%) was the most commonly recorded principal diagnosis for residents undergoing residential episodes of care, followed by Specific personality disorder (11.3%) and Depressive episode (9.5%) in 2016–17.
  • The most common length of stay for a completed residential episode was 2 weeks or less (52.3% of episodes completed on or before 30 June 2017) in 2016–17, with 3.4% of episodes lasting longer than 1 year.

Service provision

States and territories

Nationally there were 7,290 continuing and completed episodes of residential care in 2016–17, with 294,113 residential care days provided to an estimated 5,476 residents. This equates to an average of 1.3 episodes of care per resident and 40 residential care days per episode. This equates to an average of 1.3 episodes of care per resident and 40 residential care days per episode.

Tasmania reported the highest rate of residents (9.3 per 10,000 population) and the highest rate of episodes of care (19.2 per 10,000 population) in 2016–17 (Figure RMHC.1). New South Wales had the lowest rate for both episodes and residents (0.3 and 0.2 per 10,000 population). Queensland does not report any in-scope residential mental health services to the data collection. These data reflect the varying residential care components of the mental health service profile mix of each jurisdiction (further information can be found in the Specialised mental health care facilities section).

Nationally, the rate of residential care days was 120.6 per 10,000 population in 2016–17, with Tasmania reporting the highest rate (1,073.2) and Western Australia reporting the lowest (10.6).