Mental health servicesin Australia
Tables (164KB XLS)
The Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program enables a range of health, social welfare and other professionals to refer consumers who have been diagnosed with a mild to moderate mental disorder to a mental health professional to provide short-term focused psychological services. Referrals can originate from a range of settings including general practitioners (GPs), hospital emergency departments, nurses and school principals. A range of health professionals may deliver ATAPS services including psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, mental health workers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers with mental health qualifications (Department of Health 2016).
ATAPS is designed to treat people with common (i.e. high prevalence) mental disorders (e.g. anxiety and depression) who have difficulty accessing Medicare-subsidised mental health services due to reasons such as the lack of services in some geographical locations, reduced ability to pay fees, and people at-risk of homelessness (Department of Health and Ageing 2012). Consumers are eligible for a maximum of 12 ATAPS funded sessions per calendar year, including 6 initial sessions with an option for a further 6 sessions following a mental health review by the referring professional. In exceptional circumstances, a consumer may be referred for an additional 6 ATAPS sessions (up to a maximum of 18 services per calendar year). ATAPS consumers are also eligible for up to 12 group therapy services (involving 6—10 consumers) in a calendar year which do not count towards the quota for individual sessions. Consumers may be required to make a small co-payment for some ATAPS services (Department of Health 2016).
This section presents information about ATAPS consumers and services delivered in 2014–15 and considers changes in services over time.
Data in this section were last updated in December 2016.
The ATAPs program has a two-tiered funding model. The Tier 1 base funding, also known as General ATAPS, funds the provision of psychological services to complement Medicare-subsidised mental health service delivery.
The Tier 2 special purpose funding supplements Tier 1 funding to provide services to specified groups with priority needs which cannot be met through traditional ATAPS service delivery approaches (Department of Health and Ageing 2012). The specific groups targeted by Tier 2 funding include: people from low socioeconomic areas; individuals at-risk of suicide or self harm; individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness; people in rural and remote areas; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; children; and women with perinatal depression.
The number of ATAPS referrals and sessions delivered annually gradually increased between 2010–11 and 2014–15, with the rate of increase starting to slow from 2012–13 onwards. During this period, the greatest annual increase in referrals of 24.5% was seen from 2010–11 to 2011–12. There was only a small increase in the number of referrals from 2013–14 to 2014–15 (0.6%), a small decrease in the number of consumers (2.3%) and a small increase in the number of sessions (6.0%) (not including unattended sessions).
Overall, over the 5 years to 2014–15, the number of ATAPS consumers increased by 82.9% and the number of sessions (not including unattended sessions) more than doubled (increasing by 103.7%) (Table ATAPS.8).
Across the states and territories in 2014–15, the highest rate of ATAPS consumers was 423.5 per 100,000 population in the Northern Territory, followed by 334.0 in Queensland. The lowest rate was 277.2 per 100,000 in the Australian Capital Territory (Figure ATAPS.1).
The number of ATAPS sessions in 2014–15 were mostly in line with jurisdictional populations—the largest number took place in New South Wales (121,903), followed by Victoria (94,265) and Queensland (82,258). The lowest number of sessions occurred in the Australian Capital Territory (5,007) (Table ATAPS.3).
Source: Access to Allied Psychological Services Minimum Dataset 2014–15. Source data: Access to Allied Psychological Services Table ATAPS.2 (164KB XLS)
Department of Health and Ageing 2012. Operational Guidelines for the Access to Allied Psychological Services Initiative. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing.
Department of Health 2016. Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS). Canberra: Department of Health. Viewed 5 September 2016.
| Consumers >