National mental health report 2013

National spending trends

Page last updated: 2013

Annual recurrent expenditure on mental health services by the major funding authorities increased by 171% from 1992-93 (the year before the National Mental Health Strategy began) to 2010-11 (the mid-point year of the Fourth National Mental Health Plan). Figure 5 shows that growth occurred to varying extents in all three major funding streams:

  • Combined state and territory spending increased by 151% or $2.5 billion
  • Australian Government expenditure increased by 245% or $1.7 billion and
  • Spending by private health funds increased by 59% or $95 million.
In per capita terms, national spending on mental health increased from $144 in 1992-93 to $309 in 2010-11.

To put this in context, it is worth considering how the combined expenditure on mental health by the Australian Government and state and territory governments compares with their overall expenditure on health. Looking at government spending only, recurrent expenditure on mental health increased by 178% between 1992-93 and 2010-11, averaging 6% growth per year. This figure is difficult to compare with overall expenditure on health because it includes some expenditure from outside health departments, most notably by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) in the more recent years. Removing funding administered by FaHCSIA from the equation, recurrent expenditure on mental health increased by 172% from 1992-93 to 2010-11, whereas recurrent expenditure on health increased by 157% (see Figure 6). In the first decade of the National Mental Health Strategy, the two figures tracked closer together, but commencing in the mid-2000s, mental health has incrementally increased its position in terms of relative spending within the overall health sector. The increased growth of mental health relative to general health is most pronounced in 2010-11.

Further context would ideally be provided by comparisons to other countries from around the world. Unfortunately, there are no reliable benchmarks available to assess whether the 'right' level of funding is allocated for a given population's mental health needs. Significant differences exist between countries in how mental health is defined, how expenditure is reported, what is included as 'health expenditure', and what costing methodologies are employed, making comparisons of available data unreliable and potentially misleading. Substantial collaboration between countries will be required for any future international comparisons of mental health spending to be valid.

Figure 5: National expenditure on mental health by source of funds, 1992-93 to 2010-11 ($millions)

Refer to the following table for a text equivalent of Figure 5: National expenditure on mental health by source of funds, 1992-93 to 2010-11

Text version of figure 5

Source of funds1992-93
Baseline year
1997-98
End 1st plan
2002-03
End 2nd plan
2007-08
End 3rd plan
2010-11
Mid 4th plan
State and territory governments
1,672
2,005
2,556
3,496
4,188
Australian Government
701
1,061
1,438
2,017
2,420
Private health funds
162
177
192
232
257
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Figure 6: Cumulative growth in government spending on health and mental health, 1992-93 to 2010-11

Refer to the following table for a text equivalent of Figure 6: Cumulative growth in government spending on health and mental health, 1992-93 to 2010-11

Text version of figure 6

Year% change since 1992-93 -
total government spending on health
% change since 1992-93 -
total government spending on mental health
1992-93 Baseline year
0
0
1993-94
4
2
1994-95
8
10
1995-96
15
17
1996-97
19
23
1997-98 End 1st plan
27
29
1998-99
35
35
1999-00
46
43
2000-01
55
52
2001-02
61
61
2002-03 End 2nd plan
72
68
2003-04
77
75
2004-05
88
87
2005-06
93
97
2006-07
103
107
2007-08 End 3rd plan
121
128
2008-09
137
142
2009-10
147
154
2010-11 Mid 4th plan
157
172