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Survey to help improve mental health services in Australia

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A survey of people who used public specialised mental health services in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland during 2020-21 shows that more than 8 in 10 respondents who received non-admitted care and 7 in 10 who received admitted-hospital care had overall positive experiences.

These results are included in the latest update to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report Mental health services in Australia, which provides information on the health care and social care services accessed by people experiencing mental ill health.

‘Mental health treatment and support services play significant roles in the recovery of people experiencing mental illness,’ said AIHW spokesperson Matthew James.

‘Patient Reported Experience Measures (PREMS) and Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMS) help us to understand consumers’ experiences and outcomes from health services.’

The Your Experience of Service (YES) patient experience survey is a PREM which assists services and consumers to work together to improve services. Currently, New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC) and Queensland (QLD) are using the survey in their public specialised mental health services and supply data for annual national reporting to the AIHW.’

The results of 29,019 YES surveys collected during 2020–21 show that:

  • For non-admitted (also known as ‘ambulatory’) care, 91% of respondents in NSW, 87% in VIC and 92% in QLD rated the care they received as ‘Good’, ‘Very good’, or ‘Excellent’.
  • For admitted-hospital care 87% of respondents in NSW, 77% in VIC and 74% in QLD rated the care they received as ‘Good’, ‘Very good’ or ‘Excellent’.
  • Respondents rated their experience of service as Poor in 861 surveys in admitted care (about 5%) and 383 surveys in ambulatory care (about 4%).

People who received mental health care involuntarily were less likely to rate the experience positively than those who received treatment voluntarily.

Several other states and territories are planning to roll out YES in their specialised mental health services, with additional data anticipated to become available in coming years.

Mental health services in Australia also includes clinician and patient-rated outcomes to measure whether there has been an improvement, no change or deterioration in a person’s clinical condition following mental health care.

‘Information was recorded for about 202,200 people in all states and territories in 2019-20, which is about 43% of people who used public mental health services,’ Mr. James said.

‘For people admitted to hospital there was improvement, using a clinician-rated measurement tool, for 58% of care episodes for the 11–17 age group, 73% for the 18–64 group and 73% for the 65 and older group.

‘For those receiving non-admitted care there was improvement for 55% of care episodes for the 11–17 age group, 52% for the 18–64 group, and 46% for the 65 and older group.’

Information about National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants with a psychosocial disability and the services they access is also included in the latest update to Mental health services in Australia and more information relevant to this group will be added in the future.

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