Overnight admitted mental health-related care

Some people’s mental health care needs may require care in a hospital setting such as a hospital ward, an emergency department or an outpatient clinic. A patient may be admitted to the hospital just for the day, a single overnight stay, or for a number of days. Care that lasts more than one day is referred to as overnight admitted patient care.

When admitted to a hospital, patients can receive specialised psychiatric care in a psychiatric hospital or in a hospital’s psychiatric unit. Patients with mental illness may also be admitted overnight to other areas of the hospital where health care workers may not be specifically trained to care for the mentally ill, such as a drug and alcohol treatment unit. These overnight admissions are classified as being without specialised psychiatric care.

This section presents information on overnight admitted patient mental health-related separations from Australian hospitals. Data are sourced from the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD); a collation of data on admitted patient care in Australian hospitals defined by the Admitted Patient Care National Minimum Data Set (APC NMDS). It is possible for patients to have multiple separations in any given reference period. Further information can be found in the data source section. The statistical measures presented are derived based on episodes of care that ended within a collection period.

Data downloads:

Overnight admitted mental health-related care tables 2018–19 (147KB XLSX)

Overnight admitted mental health-related care section 2018–19 (1MB PDF)

Overnight admitted mental health-related care interactive figures

Data source and key concepts related to this section.

Data coverage includes the time period 2006–07 to 2018–19. This section was last updated in November 2020.

Key points

  • 271,040 overnight admitted mental health-related hospital separations occurred in 2018–19, of which 63.2% included specialised psychiatric care.
  • Depressive episode (15.7%) and Schizophrenia (13.6%) were the most common diagnoses for overnight mental health-related separations with specialised psychiatric care.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people rates1 of overnight mental health-related separations with and without specialised care were about 141 and 87 per 10,000 population respectively, which are respectively 2.2 and 2.3 times the rates for other patients.
  • Over the past decade, the population rate of overnight mental health-related hospital separations increased by 2.1% per year on average.
  • For females aged 12–17, the population rate of overnight separations with specialised care has more than doubled between 2006–07 (37.3) and 2018–19 (78.2).
  • For those aged 85+, the population rate of overnight mental health-related separations without specialised care has increased by 82.4%, from 2006–07 to 2018–19.
  • For 12–17 year old females, the population rate of overnight mental health-related separations with specialised psychiatric care has consistently been about 2 to 3 times the rate for males, throughout 2006–07 to 2018–19.

There were almost 4.5 million overnight hospital separations in 2018–19, across the public and private hospital sectors. Of these 271,040 were mental health-related, representing about 1in 16 (6.1%) of all overnight hospital separations. Almost two thirds of overnight mental health-related separations involved specialised psychiatric care (171,286 or 63.2%). Over 3 in 4 overnight mental health-related separations occurred in public hospitals (78.4%).

Long term trends show steady increases in the population rates of overnight mental health‑related separations and patient days, both with and without specialised psychiatric care. Detailed information is presented in the MS Excel tables and interactive charts.


1Age standardised