Mental health spending on the rise

SPENDING on mental services around Australia rose to nearly $6.9 billion in 2010-11, or about $309 for every Australian, data released on Wednesday revealed.

The Australian Institute of Health Welfare report on spending on mental health services showed the average spend for each Australian rose from $248 in 2006-07 to $309.

Of the total spend, more than $4.2 billion was spent on state and territory-specialised mental health services, with $1.8 billion of that spent in public hospitals.

The figures also showed the Commonwealth paid out $852 million in Medicare benefits for mental health related services, or about 5% of all Medicare expenditure.

Almost 9% of all prescription subsidies paid in 2010-11 was mental health related, totalling $834 million or about $38 for every Australian.

In 2010-11, there were also 1450 specialised mental health care facilities operating, and about 10,800 mental health beds available nation-wide.