Residential mental health care services

Residential mental health care services provide specialised mental health care on an overnight basis in a domestic-like environment. Residential mental health services may include rehabilitation, treatment or extended care.

Data from the National Residential Mental Health Care Database (NRMHCD) are used to describe the care provided by these services. More information about the NRMHCD is available in the data source section.

Data downloads and links:

XLS DownloadResidential mental health care 2019–20 tables (266KB XLSX)

Residential mental health care 2019–20 section (886KB PDF)

Data source information and key concepts related to this section.

Data in this section were last updated in October 2021.

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Key points

  • 8,298 episodes of residential care were recorded for an estimated 6,617 residents in 2019–20.
  • Schizophrenia was the most frequently reported principal diagnosis grouping in 2019–20 (26.2% of episodes), followed by Specific personality disorders (13.8%) and Schizoaffective disorders (9.7%).
  • 19.9% of residents had an involuntary mental health legal status.
  • 51.9% of completed residential mental health care episodes lasted 2 weeks or less, with 3.4% of episodes lasting longer than 1 year.

Service provision

There were 8,298 continuing and completed episodes of residential care in 2019–20, with 361,914 residential care days provided to an estimated 6,617 residents. This equates to an average of 1.3 episodes of care per resident and 43.6 residential care days per episode.

The provision of residential mental health care services differed among states and territories in 2019–20. Tasmania reported the highest rates of episodes of care, estimated number of residents and residential care days (14.6, 9.5 and 945.8 per 10,000 population respectively) New South Wales reported the lowest rate of episodes and estimated number of residents (0.1 and 0.1 respectively per 10,000 population) and Western Australia reported the lowest rate of residential care days (10.4 per 10,000 population) (Figure RMHC.1). Additional information can be found in the Specialised mental health care facilities section.

Figure RMHC.1: Residential mental health care services, by states and territories, 2005–06 to 2019–20

Two interactive charts. A vertical bar chart showing residential mental health care episodes, estimated number of residents and residential care days (rate per 10,000 population and number), by state or territory, 2019–20.  In NSW, there were 0.1 residential mental health care episodes Vic, 6.2; Qld, 2.9; WA, 1.3; S A, 7.5; Tas, 14.6; the NT, 5.8; National total, 3.3. In NSW, the estimated number of residents was 0.1; Vic, 5.2; Qld, 2.4; WA, 0.5; S A, 6.1; Tas, 9.5; the NT, 5.3; National Total, 2.6. In NSW, the number of residential care days per 10,000 population was 10.7; Vic, 245.2; Qld, 170.4; WA 10.4; SA, 212.5; Tas, 945.8; the NT, 481.6; National total, 141.8 (refer to Table RMHC.1).

2ND figure shows the rate per 10,000 population of residential mental health care episodes by states and territories from 2005–06 to 2019–20. Tas had the highest rate of episodes from 2005–06 to 2019–20, and had a rate of 14.6 in 2019–20, compared to 3.3 for the whole of Australia. NSW had the lowest rate of episodes in all years from 2005–06 to 2019–20 except for 2007–08 and had a rate of 0.1 in 2019–20 (refer to Table RMHC.2).

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Notes:
1. Comparisons between jurisdictions and years should be made with caution.
2. Australian Capital Territory did not report any residential mental health services in 2019–20. National data excludes Australian Capital Territory. 

Source data: XLS DownloadResidential mental health care 2019–20 tables (281KB XLSX).

Changes over time

Between 2015–16 and 2019–20; residential mental health care episodes increased marginally from 3.2 to 3.3 per 10,000 population (an average annual change of 0.2% over the period), estimated number of residents increased from 2.4 to 2.6 per 10,000 population (an average annual change of 1.6%) and residential care days increased from 128.2 to 141.8 per 10,000 population (an average annual change of 2.6%). Information on data quality over time can be found in the data source section.

Resident demographics

A higher number of females than males received residential mental health care in 2019–20 (3,370 females and 3,222 males). People aged 18–24 years accessed residential mental health care at a higher rate than other age groups (5.1 people per 10,000 age specific population) in 2019–20. There were no residents aged under 12.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People comprised 8.1% of residential mental health care residents in 2019–20. The rate of Indigenous residents per 10,000 population was more than double the rate for non-Indigenous residents (6.7 compared to 2.4).

People born in Australia accessed residential mental health care in 2019–20 at more than double the rate for people born overseas (3.2 per 10,000 population compared to 1.2 per 10,000). 86.2% of residential mental health care residents in 2019–20 were born in Australia.

People in Inner regional areas accessed residential mental health care at a higher rate than other remoteness areas (4.1 people per 10,000 population). The area of usual residence that had the lowest rate of people accessing residential mental health care was Remote and Very remote areas (1.7 people per 10,000 population).

People in SEIFA quintile 1 (most disadvantaged) accessed residential mental health care at a rate higher than all other quintiles (3.5 people per 10,000 population) and comprised of 28% of the population accessing residential mental health care (Figure RMHC.2). 

Figure RMHC.2: People accessing residential mental health care, by resident demographics, 2019–20

Horizontal bar chart showing the rate (per 10,000 population), per cent or number of people accessing residential mental health care by demographic variables of age group, sex, Indigenous status, country of birth, remoteness area and SEIFA quintile in 2019–20. Per 10,000 age-specific population, the rate for those aged 11 years and under; 0.8 for 12-17 years; 5.1, 18-24 years; 4.2, 25-34 years; 4.1, 35-34 years; 3.9, 45-54 years; and 1.4 for those aged 55 years and over. 2.5 males and 2.6 females per 10,000 population received residential mental health care services. 6.7 Indigenous Australians per 10,000 population and 2.4 non-Indigenous Australians received residential mental health care services. 3.2 people per 10,000 population who were born in Australia and 1.2 people  were born overseas. received residential mental health care services. 2.1 people per 10,000 population who usually resided in Major cities received residential mental health care services.  This rate was 4.1 for Inner regiona,l 3.1 for Outer regional and 1.7 for Remote and Very remote areas. Per 10,000 population in SEIFA Quintile 1 (most disadvantaged), 3.5 people received residential mental health care services. This rate was 3.3 for Quintile 2, 2.5 for Quintile 3, 2.0 for Quintile 4 and 1.4 for Quintile 5 (refer to Table RMHC.3).

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Source data: XLS DownloadResidential mental health care 2019–20 tables (281KB XLSX)

Principal diagnoses

The 5 most commonly reported mental health-related principal diagnoses for residential mental health care episodes were Schizophrenia (26.2%), Specific personality disorders (13.8%), Schizoaffective disorders (9.7%), Depressive episode (9.4%) and Bipolar affective disorders (7.1%) (Figure RMHC.3).

Figure RMHC.3: Proportion of residential mental health care episodes for 5 commonly reported principal diagnoses, 2019–20

A horizontal bar chart showing the number and proportion (per cent) of residential mental health care episodes in 2019–20 in which one of the 5 most common principal diagnoses was reported. Schizophrenia was recorded for 26.2% of residential mental health care episodes; Specific personality disorders, 13.8%; Schizoaffective disorders, 9.7%; Depressive episode, 9.4%; and Bipolar affective disorders, 7.1%. With a filter, the horizontal bar chart showing the residential mental health care episodes (number and per cent) with all principal diagnoses in 2019–20. Schizophrenia was recorded for 2,170 of residential mental health care episodes; Specific personality disorders, 1,143; Schizoaffective disorders, 805, Depressive episode, 784; and Bipolar affective disorders, 586 (refer to Table RMHC.15)

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Source data: XLS DownloadResidential mental health care 2019–20 tables (281KB XLSX)

Characteristics of residential care episodes

In 2019–20, 7,329 residential episodes of care formally ended before the end of the reference period (on or before 30 June 2020). This is known as a completed residential stay. The highest completed episodes of care length was 2 weeks or less (3,802, or 51.9%) (Figure RMHC.4). The next most common length of completed episodes of care was 2 weeks to 1 month (2,163 or 29.5%). A small number of episodes of care (249 episodes, or 3.4%) lasted longer than 1 year.

Figure RMHC.4: Residential mental health care episodes (per cent), by length of completed residential stay, 2005–06 to 2019–20

A line chart showing the proportion (per cent) of residential mental health care episodes by length of completed residential stay from 2005–06 to 2019–1920. In 2019–20, episodes lasting between 0 to 2 weeks comprised 51.9% of episodes; between 2 weeks to 1 month, 29.5%; between 1 and 3 months, 9.1%; between 3 and 6 months, 3.2%; between 6 and 12 months, 3.0%; between 1 and 5 years, 3.1%; more than 5 years, 0.3% (refer to Table RMHC.9).

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Source data: XLS DownloadResidential mental health care 2019–20 tables (281KB XLSX)

Mental health legal status

Around 1 in 5 (19.9% or 1,631) residential care episodes were for residents with an involuntary  mental health legal status in 2019–20. Among the 5 most commonly reported principal diagnoses, the highest proportion of episodes of care with an involuntary mental health legal status was reported for residents with a principal diagnosis of Schizoaffective disorders (40.1% or 316 episodes). Specific personality disorders had the highest proportion of episodes of care with a voluntary mental health legal status (96.2% or 1,099 episodes) (Figure RMHC.5).

Figure RMHC.5: Residential mental health care episodes, by mental health legal status, 2019–20

Two interactive charts. A stacked horizontal bar chart showing the residential mental health care episodes (number and per cent) for 5 of the most commonly reported principal diagnoses, by mental health legal status (voluntary or involuntary) in 2019–20. For Schizophrenia, there were 1,295 episodes with a voluntary mental health legal status and 801 with an involuntary mental health legal status; Specific personality disorders, 1,099 and 44; Schizoaffective disorders, 472 and 316; Depressive episode, 720 and 64; Bipolar affective disorders, 440 and 143 (refer to Table RMHC.12).
A stacked vertical bar chart showing the proportion of residential mental health care episodes by mental health legal status from 2008–09 to 2019–20. In 2019–20, Queensland had the highest proportion of episodes with an involuntary mental health legal status (37%), and Western Australia had the lowest proportion (0%) (refer to Table RMHC.13).

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Note: Australian Capital Territory did not report any residential mental health services in 2019–20. National data excludes Australian Capital Territory.