Resident characteristics

Resident demographics

People aged 35–44 years accessed residential mental health care services at the highest rate (3.9 people per 10,000 age specific population) in 2016–17 (Figure RMHC.2). Overall, more females (2,842 people or 52.0% of those receiving care) received residential mental health care than males (2,628 people or 48.0%). The rate of Indigenous Australians (4.5 people per 10,000 population) receiving residential mental health care was more than double the rate for non-indigenous Australians (2.2).


Figure RMHC.2 Alternative text- Source data: Residential Mental Health Care Table RMHC.3 (167KB XLS).

Principal diagnosis

The principal diagnosis recorded for people who have an episode of residential mental health care is based on the broad categories listed in the Mental and behavioural disorders chapter (Chapter 5) of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision, Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM edition). Further information can be found in the Health-related classifications section.

The most common principal diagnosis recorded was Schizophrenia (1,775 episodes or 24.3%) followed by Specific personality disorders (824 episodes or 11.3%) in 2016–17 (Figure RMHC.3). A large proportion of episodes had a principal diagnosis of Mental disorder, not otherwise specified (F99) (8.0%). The data source section has further information on principal diagnosis data quality issues.


Figure RMHC.3 Alternative text - Source data: Residential Mental Health Care Table RMHC.15 (167KB XLS).

Characteristics of residential care episodes

Length of completed residential stay

In 2016–17, 6,461 residential episodes of care formally ended before the end of the reference period (known as completed residential stay). Completed episodes of care were most commonly 2 weeks or less (3,382 or 52.3%) (Figure RMHC.4). A small number of episodes of care (219 episodes or 3.4%) lasted longer than 1 year.


Figure RMHC.4 Alternative text - Source data: Residential Mental Health Care Table RMHC.9 (167KB XLS).

The proportion of completed residential stays with a length of 0 to 2 weeks increased from 44.4% in 2005–06 to a peak of 59.5% in 2012–13, declining to 52.3% in 2016–17 (Figure RMHC.5). The proportion of completed residential stays with a length of 2 weeks to 1 month increased from 12.4% in 2005–06 to 30.6% in 2016–17, while all other lengths of stay as a proportion decreased over the same time period.


Figure RMHC.5 Alternative text - Source data: Residential Mental Health Care Table RMHC.9 (167KB XLS).

Mental health legal status

Fewer than one-fifth (19.0% or 1,359 episodes) of residential care episodes were for residents with an Involuntary mental health legal status in 2016–17; a decrease from 28.8% in 2005–06. Interpretation of time series results should be made with caution though due to data quality improvements and a variable proportion of ‘not reported’ mental health legal status during this period. Further information can be found in the data source section.

Residents with a principal diagnosis of Schizophrenia accounted for 42.0% (571 episodes) of all involuntary episodes of care. The proportion of episodes for residents with an involuntary mental health legal status was highest for those with a principal diagnosis of Schizoaffective disorders (38.1% or 236 episodes) and Schizophrenia (33.5% or 571 episodes)  (Figure RMHC.6).