Key concepts

Specialised mental health care facilities

Key concept Description
Beds The number of available specialised mental health beds refers to the average number of beds that are immediately available for use by an admitted patient within the mental health facility over the financial year, estimated using monthly figures (METeOR identifier 374151).Data prior to 2005–06 were sourced from the National Survey of Mental Health Services, which reported the total number of beds available as at 30 June. Comparison of historical data should therefore be approached with caution.
Community mental health care services Community mental health care services include hospital outpatient clinics and non‑hospital community mental health care services, such as crisis or mobile assessment and treatment services, day programs, outreach services, and consultation/liaison services.
Consumer committee representation arrangements Specialised mental health organisations report the level of consumer committee representation arrangements. To be regarded as having a formal position on a management or advisory committee, the consumer representative needs to be a voting member (METeOR identifier288855). This is independent to the employment of consumer and carer consultants. The data source section provides information on the levels available.
Government-operated residential mental health services

Government‑operated residential mental health services are specialised Residential mental health care services that: 

  • are operated by a state or territory government
  • employ mental health-trained staff on‑site for a minimum of 6 hours per day and at least 50 hours per week
  • provide rehabilitation, treatment or extended care to residents for whom the care is intended to be on an overnight basis and in a domestic‑like environment
  • encourage the resident to take responsibility for their daily living activities.
Health care providers

Health care providers refers to the following staffing categories: salaried medical officers, nurses, diagnostic and allied health professionals, other personal care staff and mental health consumer and carer workers. 

Mental health carer worker Mental health carer workers are employed (or engaged via contract) on a part-time or full-time basis specifically for their expertise developed from their experience as a mental health carer (METeOR identifier 450730).Mental health carer workers include the job titles of, but not limited to, carer consultants, peer support workers, carer support workers, carer representatives and carer advocates. Roles that mental health carer workers may perform include, but are not limited to, mental health policy development, advocacy roles and carer support roles.
Mental health consumer worker Mental health consumer workers are employed (or engaged through contracts) on a part-time or full-time basis specifically due to the expertise developed from their lived experience of mental illness (METeOR identifier 450727). Mental health consumer workers include the job titles of, but not limited to, consumer consultants, peer support workers, peer specialists, consumer companions, consumer representatives, consumer project officers and recovery support workers. Roles that mental health consumer workers may perform include, but are not limited to, participation in mental health service planning, mental health service evaluation and peer support roles.
National standards for mental health services

The National standards for mental health services (DoH 2010) were developed under the First National Mental Health Plan and are applicable to individual service units. There are 8 levels available to describe a service unit's status (METeOR identifier 573549). The data source section provides information for the full description of all 8 levels and information relating to the revised 2010 national standards (Health 2010). For reporting purposes, the data are collated into the following 4 levels:

  • Level 1: the service unit has been reviewed by an external accreditation agency and was judged to have met the standards.
  • Level 2: the service unit was in the process of being reviewed by an external accreditation agency but the outcomes were not known.
  • Level 3: the service unit was in the process of being reviewed by an external accreditation agency but the outcomes are not known; or the service unit is booked for review by an external accreditation agency.
  • Level 4: the service unit does not meet the criteria detailed in levels 1 to 3.
Non-government-operated residential mental health services Non‑government‑operated residential mental health services are specialised Residential mental health care services which meet the same criteria as government‑operated Residential mental health care services. These services, while partially or fully funded by governments, are operated by non‑government agencies. Expenditure reported as non-government operated Residential mental health care services includes the total operating costs for the residential service, not the total operating costs of the non-government organisation as an entity. Expenditure reported as Grants to non-government organisations includes grants made by state and territory government departments to non-government organisations specifically for mental health-related programs and initiatives and are reported separately to expenditure reported for non-government-operated Residential mental health care services.
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 care services. The total number of patient days is reported by specialised mental health service units. For consistency in data reporting, the following patient day data collection guidelines apply: admission and discharge on the same day equals 1 day; all days are counted during a period of admission except for the day of discharge; and leave days are excluded from the total. Note that the number of patient days reported to the National Mental Health Establishments Database is not directly comparable with either the number of patient days reported to the National Hospital Morbidity Database (Admitted patient mental health-related care section) or the number of residential care days reported to the National Residential Mental Health Care Database (Residential mental health care section).
Private psychiatric hospital A private psychiatric hospital is an establishment devoted primarily to the treatment and care of admitted patients with psychiatric, mental or behavioural disorders. From 2017–18, all private hospital data is sourced from the Private Psychiatric Hospitals Data Reporting and Analysis Service (PPHDRAS). Data on expenditure and Staffing (FTE) are not collected in PPHADRAS. Up to 2016–17, data were sourced from the Private Health Establishments Collection (PHEC), held by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which identifies private psychiatric hospitals as those that are licensed/approved by a state or territory health authority, and which cater primarily for admitted patients with psychiatric, mental or behavioural disorders (ABS 2018),that is, providing 50% or more of the total patient days for psychiatric patients. The data published in this section also include psychiatric units or wards in private hospitals. Further information can be found in the data source section.
Program type Public sector specialised mental health hospital services can be categorised based on program type, which describes the principal purpose(s) of the program rather than the classification of the individual patients. Acute care admitted patient programs involve short‑term treatment for individuals with acute episodes of a mental disorder, characterised by recent onset of severe clinical symptoms that have the potential for prolonged dysfunction or risk to self and/or others. Non‑acute care refers to all other admitted patient programs, including rehabilitation and extended care services (see METeOR identifier 288889).
Psychiatric units or wards Psychiatric units or wards are specialised units or wards that are dedicated to the treatment and care of admitted patients with psychiatric, mental or behavioural disorders.
Public acute hospital A public acute hospital is an establishment that provides at least minimal medical, surgical or obstetric services for admitted patient treatment and/or care and provides round‑the‑clock comprehensive qualified nursing services as well as other necessary professional services. They must be licensed by the state or territory health department or be controlled by government departments. Most of the patients have acute conditions or temporary ailments and the average length of stay is relatively short.
Public psychiatric hospital A public psychiatric hospital is an establishment devoted primarily to the treatment and care of admitted patients with psychiatric, mental or behavioural disorders that is controlled by a state or territory health authority and offers free diagnostic services, treatment, care and accommodation to all eligible patients.
Service setting Staffing of specialised mental health service units is reported as service setting level data for three specialist mental health service types. These settings are admitted patient services in public psychiatric hospitals and public acute hospitals with specialised psychiatric units or wards; Community mental health care services; Residential mental health care services, including government and non-government-operated services; and at the Organisational overhead setting. The Organisational overhead setting level has been included from 2012–13 capturing staff employed by specialised mental health service organisations, performing organisational management roles.
Specialised mental health service organisation A specialised mental health service organisation is a separate entity within states and territories responsible for the clinical governance, administration and financial management of services providing specialised mental health care. For most states and territories, a specialised mental health service organisation is equivalent to the area/district mental health service. These organisations may consist of one or more specialised mental health service units, sometimes based in different locations. Each separately identifiable unit provides either specialised mental health admitted patient hospital services, Residential mental health care services or Community mental health care services (METeOR identifier 286449).
Staff

Staff numbers reported in this section refer to the average number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) staff employed, that is, the total hours actually worked divided by the number of normal hours worked by a full-time staff member (METeOR identifier 269172).

Supported housing places Supported housing places are reported by jurisdictions to describe the capacity of supported housing targeted to people affected by mental illness (METeOR identifier 390929). This is reported at the number available at 30 June and is therefore not comparable to the average available beds measures for specialised mental health hospital and residential services.
Target population

Some specialised mental health services data are categorised using 5 target population groups (see METeOR identifier 493010):

  • Child and adolescent services focus on those aged under 18 years.
  • Older person programs focus on those aged 65 years and over.
  • Forensic health services provide services primarily for people whose health condition has led them to commit, or be suspected of, a criminal offence or make it likely that they will reoffend without adequate treatment or containment.
  • General programs provide services to the adult population, aged 18 to 64; however, these services may also provide assistance to children, adolescents or older people. 
  • Youth services target children and young people generally aged 16–24 years.

Note that, in some states, specialised mental health beds for aged persons are jointly funded by the Australian and state and territory governments. However, not all states or territories report such jointly funded beds through the National Mental Health Establishments Database.