From 2013 to 2017, our analysis showed that 212,679 people accessed State-managed mental health care in Western Australia. These people had one or more mental health related events at any time between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2017. State-managed mental health care, for the purposes of our data analysis included care provided:
- in a public hospital as an inpatient
- in a public hospital ED
- through community treatment services delivered by community mental health teams.
On an annual basis, the number of people accessing any combination of the 3 State-managed mental health services we looked at grew steadily over the 5 years from 65,341 in 2013 to 76,845 in 2017 (Figure 1). These numbers are different from the number quoted in Access to State-Managed Adult Mental Health Services report. The reason being, that these numbers include the number of people who accessed mental health care in an ED during that time. The number quoted in the audit report excludes ED because it is not taken into consideration by MHC when determining the State’s requirement for mental health care.
The biggest increase was in 2016 when 5,079 more people accessed care compared to the previous year, representing a 7.4% increase on 2015. The number of people accessing care each year is the number of people who had at least one public mental health event in that year.
A single event, such as a stay in hospital, can start in one year and finish in another year. That person is counted in each year that the episode of care occurs. For example, a person who was hospitalised from December to January the following year would be counted in both years. Annual totals are not cumulative and when added exceed the total number of people who accessed care over the 5 year period by 139,825. This is because many people accessed mental health services across multiple years.
Seventy-five percent of the 212,679 people, who accessed care during the 5 years, accessed State-managed adult mental health care for the first time in those 5 years (we refer to these people as ‘new entrants’). Annually, around 45% of people accessing care were new entrants (Figure 2).
We looked at whether people first accessed care through an ED, as an inpatient in a hospital or contact with a community treatment service (Figure 3).
New entrants were more likely to have their first contact with State-managed adult mental health care through a community treatment service or an ED. Over the 5 years, 49% of people first accessed care through community treatment services, and 46% first accessed care through an ED. Only 5% of people made their first contact with State-managed mental health services as an inpatient, either in a mental health or a general health ward.