Staffing of mental health care facilities

State and territory specialised mental health care services

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 services.

Of the 31,999 full-time-equivalent (FTE staff employed in state and territory specialised mental health care services in 2015–16, half were nurses (16,318 FTE or 51.0%) with most registered nurses (14,001 FTE). Diagnostic and allied health professionals (6,045 FTE or 18.9%) made up the second largest group of staff, comprising mostly social workers (2,113 FTE) and psychologists (1,805 FTE). Salaried medical officers made up 10.4% of FTE staff, with similar numbers of consultant psychiatrists and psychiatrists (1,450 FTE), and psychiatry registrars and trainees (1,556 FTE).

Nationally there were 133.3 FTE staff per 100,000 population employed in specialised mental health care services in 2015–16 (Figure FAC.7). Western Australia (152.8) had the highest number of FTE staff per 100,000 population, while Victoria (118.2) had the lowest.

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities tables 2015–16 tables (531KB XLS)

The number of FTE staff per 100,000 population employed in specialised mental health care services has remained relatively stable between 2011–12 and 2015–16 across most labour force categories, apart from consumer workers. The number of FTE consumer workers increased from 0.3 to 0.5 per 100,000 population over this time 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. In 2012–13, the organisational overhead setting was introduced for greater national consistency in reporting and greater clarity about staff delivering care to patients. The organisational overhead setting consists of the components of specialised mental health service organisations not directly involved in the delivery of patient care services in the admitted patient, residential or community mental health care service settings, or in the operations of those settings. The definition does not imply that these roles do not have an impact on service delivery. For example, a chief operating officer not directly providing patient care, nor involved in the operation of services in a specific service setting, would be reported in the organisational overhead setting. The reporting methodology for the new organisational overhead setting is taking time for states and territories to implement (see Table FAC.39 for detailed time series data).

Almost half (14,458 FTE or 45.2%) 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 of FTE staff (12,234 or 38.2%). Since 1993–94, the number of FTE staff employed in specialised mental health admitted patient hospital services has remained relatively stable (approximately 13,000 to 14,000 FTE staff) while those employed by community mental health services has increased nearly threefold (around 4,000 in 1993–94 to over 12,000 in 2015–16).

Health care providers

Health care providers include the staffing categories of salaried medical officers, nurses, diagnostic and allied health professionals, mental health consumer and carer workers and other personal care staff. These staff can be described at the overall organisational level, by service setting and by target population.

Public hospital specialised mental health services employed 54.4 FTE health care providers per 100,000 population in 2015–16 (Figure FAC.8). Community mental health care services employed 45.2 FTE health care providers per 100,000 population in 2015–16 and Residential mental health services employed 8.1.

Source data: Specialised mental health care facilities tables 2015–16 tables (531KB XLS)

Private hospital specialised mental health services

There were 3,368 FTE staff employed by specialised psychiatric services in private hospitals during 2015–16, equating to 14.0 FTE staff employed per 100,000 population. These figures do not include Medicare-subsidised medical practitioners and other health professionals, who also provide services to people admitted to private hospitals for mental health care. Comparison with previous years’ data should be made with caution due to changes in collection methodology. See data source section for further information.