Specialised mental health care facilities

Specialised mental health care is delivered in and by a range of facilities in Australia including public and private psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric units or wards in public acute hospitals, Community mental health care services and government-operated and non-government-operated Residential mental health services. The information presented in this section is drawn primarily from the National Mental Health Establishments Database. More detail about these and the other data used in this section can be found in the data source section.

Data downloads

Specialised mental health care facilities 2019–20 tables (560KB XLSX)

Specialised mental health care facilities 2019–20 section (605KB PDF)

Data source and key concepts related to this section.

Data coverage includes the time period 1992–93 to 2019–20. This section was last updated in Feburary 2022.

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Expenditure on mental health-related services Community mental health care services Residential mental health care services

Key points

  • 161 public hospitals and 68 private hospitals provided specialised mental health services for admitted patients during 2019-20.
  • 7,019 specialised mental health public hospital beds were available in 2019–20; providing 2.3 million patient days to people in hospital.
  • 3,494 mental health beds were available in private hospitals in 2019–20.
  • 2,438 residential mental health beds were available during 2019–20, with over two-thirds operated by government organisations.
  • 13,948 full-time-equivalent staff were employed by Community mental health care services in 2019–20.

There were 1,731 specialised mental health care facilities providing care in 2019–20 (Figure FAC.1.1).

Figure FAC.1: Number of specialised mental health care facilities, available beds and activity in Australia, 2019–20

Figure FAC.1.1 shows the number of facilities and allocation of bed and patient activity spilt into four groups of specialised mental health care facilities: public hospitals, private hospitals, Residential mental health care services and Community mental health care services.

Figure FAC.1.2 shows the number of facilities for all facility types from 2005–06 to 2019–20. There was a total of 1,254 specialised mental health facilities in 2005–06 which increased to 1,731 in 2019–20. There were a total of 927 community mental health service facilities in 2005–06 which increased to 1,321 in 2019–20. A total of 77 government operated residential mental health service facilities in 2005–06 which increased to 111 in 2019–20. A total of 58 non-government operated residential mental health service facilities in 2005–06, which peaked to 89 facilities in 2014–15 and then decreased to 70 in 2019–20. A total of 43 private psychiatric hospital facilities in 2005–06, which increased to 68 in 2019–20. A total of 134 public acute hospital with specialised psychiatric unit or ward facilities in 2005–06, which increased to 144 in 2019–20. A total of 15 public psychiatric hospital facilities in 2005–06, which increased to 17 in 2012–13 and has remained the same till 2019–20.

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities 2019–20 tables (560KB XLSX)

Social and emotional wellbeing services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

In addition to the specialised mental health care facilities described above, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may access a range of culturally appropriate mental health services provided by Australian and state and territory governments.

For example, the Australian Government funds health organisations to provide social and emotional wellbeing/mental health/counselling (SEWB) services for Indigenous Australians (AIHW 2021). SEWB services provide a range of support services including counselling, casework, family tracing and reunion support and other wellbeing activities for individuals, families and communities.

In 2019–20, 442 social and emotional wellbeing staff were located across Australia, providing approximately 234,220 client contacts  (AIHW 2021). For more information on the organisation profile, staffing and types of services provided by SEWB services, see the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific primary health care: results from the nKPI and OSR collections (2019–20).

 Specialised mental health service organisations

There were 174 Specialised mental health service organisations responsible for the administration of the 1,663 state and territory specialised mental health facilities (excluding private hospitals) during 2019–20. Of these, almost two-thirds (111 organisations or 63.8%) provided two or more types of services.

Of organisations that provided 2 or more types of services within an organisational structure, the most common pairing was specialised mental health public hospital services (includes public acute hospitals and public psychiatric hospitals) and Community mental health care services (63 or 36.2%). These organisations accounted for about half of the beds and patient days (51.0% and 49.8% respectively) provided by specialised mental health public hospital services and over two-fifths (42.0%) of all community mental health care service contacts.

Furthermore, more than three-quarters provided specialised Community mental health care services (137 or 78.7%). About two-thirds provided specialised mental health public hospital services (114 or 65.5%), and almost half provided Residential mental health services (80 or 46.0%).

Figure FAC.2: Specialised mental health organisations, by level of consumer committee representation, 1993–94 to 2019–20

A stacked area chart showing the level of consumer committee representation arrangements in mental health organisations from 1993–94 to 2019–20. Level 1 consumer representation has grown from a minority to majority arrangement over this time period. Level 2 consumer participation has consistently been the least common arrangement from 2003–04 onwards. Refer to Table FAC.8

Key:
Level 1 Formal consumer position(s) exist on the organisation’s management committee; or specific consumer advisory committee(s) exist to advise on all mental health services managed.
Level 2 Specific consumer advisory committee(s) exist to advise on some mental health services managed.
Level 3 Consumers participate on an advisory committee representing a wide range of interests.
Level 4 No consumer representation on any advisory committee; meetings with senior representatives encouraged.
 

Specialised mental health beds and patient days

During 2019–20, there were 12,961 specialised mental health beds available nationally, with 7,019 beds provided by public hospital services, 3,494 by private hospitals, and 2,438 by Residential mental health care services (Figure FAC.3).

Figure FAC.3: Distribution of specialised mental health beds in Australia, 2019-20

Figure FAC.3 shows the distribution of specialised mental health beds in 2019–20. The table shows that the majority of beds were provided by hospitals, while residential beds accounted for approximately 1 in 4 beds. Public hospitals provided more than twice the number of beds that private hospitals provided and the majority of public hospital beds were for acute care. The majority of Residential mental health care services beds were provided by government-operated services. Most of the residential beds in government-operated services were provided in 24-hour staffed residential services, whereas in non-government operated services, more beds were provided in non-24 hour staffed services.

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities 2019–20 tables (560KB XLSX)

Public sector specialised mental health hospital beds

In 2019–20, there were 7,019 public sector specialised mental health hospital beds available in Australia. About three quarters of these (77.4% or 5,434 beds) were in specialised psychiatric units or wards within public acute hospitals, with the remainder in public psychiatric hospitals (1,584 beds).

New South Wales (33.2) had the highest rate of beds per 100,000 population in 2019–20, while the Northern Territory had the lowest (17.5), compared to the national rate of 27.5.

Public sector specialised mental health hospital beds can also be described by the target population or program type category of the specialised mental health service unit, or a combination of both.

Figure FAC.4: Public sector specialised mental health hospital beds, by target population, states and territories, 2019–20

Stacked bar chart showing the proportion of public sector specialised mental health hospital beds by target population and states and territories in 2019–20. Target Populations are: General, Child and adolescent, Youth, Older person and Forensic. Beds in General services had the highest proportion of beds per 100,000 across all jurisdictions. Refer to Table FAC.14.

Figure FAC.5: Residential mental health service beds per 100,000 population, by hours staffed and target population, states and territories, 2019–20

Figure FAC.5 shows a stacked vertical bar chart of residential mental health service beds per 100,000 population by hours staffed and states and territories in 2019–20. NSW (0.5), Vic (20.4), Qld (6.4), WA (12.4), SA (9.1), Tas (30.3), ACT (4.9), NT (14.6) and national total (9.5). Western Australia was the only jurisdiction where non-24-hour staffed residential services provided more beds per 100,000 population than 24-hour staffed services. 24-hour staffed services provided more beds across all other jurisdictions. Refer to Table FAC.19.

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities 2019–20 tables (560KB XLSX)

24-hour staffed public sector care

Mental health services with staff employed in active shifts for 24 hours a day are provided through either public sector specialised mental health hospital services (inpatient care) or 24-hour staffed Residential mental health care services. Comparisons between states and territories are possible when the data for these different types of 24‑hour staffing are combined.

Victoria had the highest rate of 24-hour staffed public sector beds per 100,000 population (39.8) in 2019–20, followed by Tasmania (39.4), while Queensland (31.9) and the Northern Territory (32.1) had the lowest rates, compared with the national average of 35.2 (Figure FAC.6). In New South Wales (21.8), Victoria (18.7), Queensland (17.1), Western Australia (26.7), South Australia (21.9) and Northern Terriotory (17.5) the highest rate was provided by acute hospital services. In Tasmania 24-hour staffed residential services (20.4) had the highest rate.

Figure FAC.6: Specialised mental health hospital beds per 100,000 population, by 24-hour care setting, states and territories, 2019–20

Stacked vertical bar chart showing specialised mental health beds per 100,000 population, by 24-hour care setting and states and territories in 2019–20. NSW (33.5), Vic (39.8), Qld (31.9), WA (34.8), SA (34.8), Tas (39.4), ACT (33.5), NT (32.1), Total (35.2). In New South Wales (21.8), Victoria (18.7), Queensland (17.1), Western Australia (26.7), South Australia (21.9) and Northern Terriotory (17.5) the highest number of beds per 100,000 were provided by acute hospital services.  In Tasmania (20.4) 24-hour staffed residential services had the highest number of beds per 100,000 population. Refer to Table FAC.23.

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities 2019–20 tables (560KB XLSX)

Private hospital specialised mental health beds

There were 3,494 available beds (13.7 per 100,000 population) in private psychiatric hospitals in 2019–20, including specialised units or wards in private hospitals.

Patient days

Patient days are days of admitted patient care provided to admitted patients in public psychiatric hospitals or specialised psychiatric units or wards in public acute hospitals and in residential mental health services. The total number of patient days is reported by specialised mental health service units.

Staffing of state and territory specialised mental health care facilities

State and territory specialised mental health care services include public psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric units or wards in public acute hospitals, Community mental health care services and government and non‑government‑operated Residential mental health care services.

In 2019–20, there were 139.6 FTE staff per 100,000 population nationally employed in specialised mental health care services (Figure FAC.7).

The Northern Territory (207.0) had the highest rate of FTE staff per 100,000 population, while Victoria (132.4) had the lowest. Nurses were the largest full-time-equivalent staff category across all jurisdictions.

In 2019–20, of the 35,686.3 FTE staff employed in state and territory specialised mental health care services, about half were nurses (18,196.7 FTE or 51.0%) with the majority registered nurses (15,665.3 FTE or 43.9%). Diagnostic and allied health professionals (7,133.9 FTE or 20.0%) made up the second largest group of staff, comprising mostly social workers (2,574.6 FTE) and psychologists (1,993.3 FTE). Salaried medical officers made up 10.9% of FTE staff, with similar numbers of consultant psychiatrists and psychiatrists (1,719.3 FTE), and psychiatry registrars and trainees 1,855.4 FTE).

Figure FAC.7: Full-time-equivalent staff per 100,000 population by staffing category, states and territories, 2019–20

Vertical stacked bar chart showing full-time-equivalent staff per 100,000 population by staffing category and jurisdictions in 2019–20. Staffing categories are: Salaried medical officers, Nurses, Diagnostic and allied health professionals, Other personal care, Consumer workers, Carer workers and Other Staff.  Nurses made up the majority of full-time-equivalent staff across all jurisdictions. Refer to Table FAC.37.

Source data: XLS DownloadSpecialised mental health care facilities 2019–20 tables (560KB XLSX)

The rate of FTE staff per 100,000 population employed in specialised mental health care services has increased between 2015–16 and 2019–20 at an average annual increase of 1.2%. The labour force category Other staff decreased by an annual 1.6% over this time period. The rate of FTE consumer workers increased from 0.5 to 0.8 over this period.

State and territory specialised mental health care service units

Staff employed by state and territory specialised mental health care services can also be described by the service setting where they are employed.

More than two-fifths (15,718 FTE or 44.1%) of state and territory specialised mental health care services staff were employed in public hospital specialised mental health services. Community mental health care services employed the next largest number (13,948 FTE or 39.1%). Since 1993–94, the number of staff employed in specialised mental health admitted patient hospital services has ranged between around 11,000 FTE to around 16,000 FTE, while the number employed by Community mental health care services has tripled (from 4,197 FTE in 1993–94 to 13,948 FTE in 2019–20).

Figure FAC.8: Full-time-equivalent health care providers per 100,000 population, by service setting, state and territory specialised mental health service units, 1992–93 to 2019–20

Line graph showing Full-time-equivalent health care providers per 100,000 population, state and territory specialised mental health service units, by service setting, 1992–93 to 2019–20. This rate was consistently highest for Hospital admitted patient service settings, ranging between 45.1 and 57.1 (in 2000–01 and 1992–93 respectively), and was most recently 56.7 (in 2019–20). The rate was consistently second highest for Community mental health care service settings, which increased from 19.1 to 49.0 between 1992–93 and 2019–20. The rate for Residential mental health care service settings increased from 4.0 to 8.9 between 1992–93 and 2019-20 peaking at 9.0 in 2018-19 and with a low of 3.4 in 1993–94. The Organisation overhead setting was reported on from 2012–13, with a rate ranging between 3.7 and 5.7 during the past 8 reporting periods. Refer to Table FAC.43.