Patient characteristics

Patient demographics

Patients aged 35–44 received the most community mental health care contacts (1,918,718), and had the highest rate of service contacts (593.6 per 1,000 population) in 2015–16 (Figure CMHC.4). The youngest age group (less than 15 years) had the lowest number of contacts per 1,000 population (140.5), followed by the oldest age group (65 and over; 214.8).

In 2015–16, males accessed services at a higher rate (417.0 service contacts per 1,000 population) than females (352.3). The highest male contact rate was reported for the 35–44 age group (733.5), while for females the highest contact rate was for the 15–24 age group (603.2).

One in 10 (10.0%) community mental health care service contacts with a recorded Indigenous status were provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Indigenous Australians accessed services at just over 3.7 times the non-Indigenous rate (1,271.9 for Indigenous and 347.2 for non-Indigenous Australians per 1,000 population). Indigenous status was missing or not reported for 7.0% of all contacts in 2015–16.

Approximately a quarter (26.4% or 2,277,210) of community mental health care contacts were for people living in areas classified as being in the lowest (most disadvantaged) socioeconomic status quintile. Residents in the most disadvantaged areas also had the highest rate of community mental health care contacts (479.3 per 1,000 population). People living in areas classified as being the highest (least disadvantaged) socioeconomic quintile had the lowest number of community mental health care contacts (1,297,305) and rate (273.0 per 1,000 population).

Figure CMHC.4 Community mental health care service contact rates, by demographic variables, 2015–16

Horizontal bar chart comparing the rates of demographic variables per 1,000 population of community care service contacts in 2015–16. Males aged 35–44 years and females aged 15–24 years accessed services at the highest rates (733.5 and 603.2). Indigenous Australians accessed services at a higher rate than non-Indigenous (1,271.9 and 347.2). SEIFA quintile 1, the most disadvantaged group recorded the highest rate (479.3). Refer to Tables CMHC.3 and CMHC.7.

Note:

Rates are crude rates, except Indigenous status, which is directly age-standardised, as detailed in the technical notes.

Source: National Community Mental Health Care Database.

Source data: Community mental health care services 2015–16 Tables CMHC.3 and CMHC.7.(202KB XLS)

In 2015–16, the majority of all service contacts were provided to patients living in Major cities (69.1% of contacts with a reported remoteness area). Patients living in Remote areas accessed services at the highest rate (405.9 per 1,000 population) followed by those living in Outer regional areas (400.7).

Principal diagnosis

The principal diagnosis recorded for patients who have a community mental health care service contact 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). See the data source section for further information on principal diagnosis data quality issues.

Of the 5 most commonly reported specific mental health-related principal diagnoses, Schizophrenia (ICD-10-AM code F20; 21.5%) was the most frequently recorded principal diagnosis in 2015–16 (Figure CMHC.5). This was followed by Depressive episode (F32; 9.7%) and Bipolar affective disorder (F31; 5.0%). A principal diagnosis was reported for almost 9 out of 10 (about 8.3 million) of all community mental health care service contacts.

Figure CMHC.5 Community mental health care service contacts, for 5 commonly reported mental health-related principal diagnoses, 2015–16 

Horizontal bar chart showing 5 most commonly reported principal diagnoses for community mental health care service contacts in 2015–16. The most frequently reported principal diagnosis was schizophrenia (21.5%25), followed by depressive episode (9.7%25), bipolar affective disorders (5.0%25), schizoaffective disorders (4.8%25) and reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorders (4.0%25). Refer to Table CMHC.14.

Note:

There are jurisdictional variances in the way principal diagnosis is reported (see the online data source of the Community mental health care section).

Source: National Community Mental Health Care Database.

Source data: Community mental health care services 2015–16 Table CMHC.14 (202KB XLS).

Most commonly reported principal diagnosis: Schizophrenia

Amongst patients with a principal diagnosis of Schizophrenia, those aged 35–44 received the greatest number of community mental health care contacts (537,312 or 30.2%). This group also had the highest rate of service contacts (166.2 per 1,000 population) in 2015–16. Males with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia received services at a higher rate (104.2 service contacts per 1,000) than females (44.6 service contacts per 1,000) in 2015–16. As illustrated in Figure CMHC.6, when service contact rates are considered by both age group and sex, the highest rate of contacts was for males aged 35–44 years (254.9 contacts per 1,000 population). The difference between males and females is most likely due to the observed difference in prevalence of Schizophrenia in both groups. See the Prevalence, impact and burden section for further information.

Figure CMHC.6 Rate of community mental health care service contacts with a principal diagnosis of Schizophrenia, by age group and sex, 2015–16

Population pyramid comparing the rate per 1,000 population of community mental health care service contacts of males and females with a principal diagnosis of schizophrenia, across age groups in 2015–16. Males aged 34–45 accessed services at the highest rate of 254.9. For females, the age group 45–54 reported the highest rate of 79.7. Refer to Table CMHC.16

Note: Crude rates based on the estimated Australian resident population on 31 December 2015.

Source: National Community Mental Health Care Database.

Source data: Community mental health care services 2015–16 Table CMHC.16 (202KB XLS).

Other commonly reported principal diagnoses

For the other most commonly reported specific principal diagnoses, rates of service contacts differed between males and females and by age group. In 2015–16:

  • rates of service contacts for Depressive episode were highest for males in the 35–44 age group (62.9 contacts per 1,000 population)
  • females with a diagnosis of Bipolar affective disorder received service contacts at a higher rate than males (19.8 and 14.9 service contacts per 1,000 population)
  • rates of service contacts for Reaction to severe stress and adjustment disorder (a stress-related disorder) were highest for females in the 15–24 age group at 37.7 per 1,000 population, which was more than double the service contact rate for males of the same age group (18.1 per 1,000 population)
  • amongst patients with a principal diagnosis of Schizoaffective disorders, males and females aged 35–44 had the highest rate of service contacts (38.0 and 37.5 per 1,000 population).

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