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    Community Mental Health Care tables (1.04MB XLS).
    Tables (1.04MB XLS)

    State and territory community mental health care services portals

    Mental illness is frequently treated in community and hospital-based ambulatory care settings. Collectively, these services are referred to as community mental health care. Data from the National Community Mental Health Care Database (NCMHCD) are used to describe the care provided by these services. The statistical counting unit used in the NCMHCD is a service contact between either a patient or a third party and a specialised community mental health care service provider. For more information about the coverage and data quality of the NCMHCD, see the data source section.

    For Victoria and Tasmania, industrial action caused a substantial reduction in data coverage in 2011–12 and 2012–13. The observed reductions in both service contact and patient numbers are considered to be primarily due to these missing data and consequently, long term trends in the total number of service contacts are not available for 2011–12 and 2012–13.

    Data for the Australian Capital Territory were not available for the 2014–15 reporting period. See the footnotes in each of the tables for details about the calculation of national rates for the years 2011–12, 2012–13 and 2014–15.

    Key points

    • Around 8.5 million community mental health care service contacts were recorded in 2014–15.
    • The most common principal diagnosis reported for patients receiving service contacts was Schizophrenia, followed by Depressive episodes and Bipolar affective disorder.
    • The most frequently recorded type of community mental health care service contact was with an individual patient (as opposed to a group session) and a duration of 5–15 minutes.
    • Involuntary contacts accounted for about one-eighth (12.5%) of all contacts. The proportion of involuntary contacts decreased from 15.5% in 2010–11 to 12.5% in 2014–15.

    Data in this section was last updated in October 2016.

    Community mental health care service provision

    Over time

    Service contact rates have increased in most jurisdictions since 2010–11 (Figure CMHC.1). The Northern Territory had the greatest annual average increase (15.3%) between 2010–11 and 2014–15, followed by Queensland (12.1%) (Table CMHC.3). Issues with data coverage for Victorian and Tasmanian data in 2011–12 and 2012–13, and the Australian Capital Territory in 2014–15, have had an impact on the ability to perform long term trend analysis for these jurisdictions, as well as at the national level. Consequently, the national rates should be interpreted with caution.

    Figure CMHC.1 State and territory community mental health care service contacts, 2010–11 to 2014–15

    Clustered bar graph showing community mental health care contact rates per 1,000 population for states and territories from 2010–11 to 2014–15. The trend analysis shows that for most jurisdictions the rate of service contacts has increased over time. The national rate changed from 323.6 in 2010–11 to 366.8 in 2014-15. Refer to Table CMHC.3.


    The rate for 2011–12, 2012–13 and 2014–15 using adjusted population data which accounts for missing data, as detailed in the online technical information.

    Source: National Community Mental Health Care Database.

    Source data: State and territory community mental health care Table CMHC.3 (1.04MB XLS).

    States and territories

    Around 8.5 million service contacts were provided to patients in 2014–15. The number of service contacts per 1,000 population varied between jurisdictions in 2014–15, with New South Wales reporting the highest rate (409.2) and Tasmania the lowest (273.5). Differences in jurisdictional data reporting systems may contribute to the observed variation in service contact rates (Table CMHC.1).

    The number of unique patients provided service contacts is available; however, figures are limited to those records with a unique person identifier, that is, a person has one identifier regardless of how many individual services within a state or territory provide services to the client. The ability of jurisdictions to generate unique identifiers varies, as described in the data quality statement for the CMHC NMDS. In 2014–15, 96.0% of all service contacts were provided to unique patients.

    The number of patients per 1,000 population ranged between 11.5 (Victoria) and 30.1 (Northern Territory) in 2014–15 (Figure CMHC.2) (Table CMHC.1).

    Figure CMHC.2 Community mental health care patients, states and territories, 2014–15

    Vertical bar chart showing community mental health care rates for patients for states and territories in 2014–15. Vic reported the lowest rate (11.5 patients per 1,000 population). The NT reported the highest (30.1), followed by SA (22.4), WA (21.0), Qld (19.2), Tas (18.9) and NSW (16.4) Nationally there were 16.9 patients per 1,000 population. Data was not available for the ACT. Refer to Table CMHC.1.

    Source: National Community Mental Health Care Database.

    Source data: State and territory community mental health care Table CMHC.1 (1.04MB XLS).

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