Inequity in Delivery of Mental Health Services Throughout Australia

By Petrina Smith
Monday, 02 March, 2015

A study into the delivery of mental health services shows that there is inequity and a lack of universality in Australia.
Published in the Medical Journal of Australia, the Monash-led study found that people living in disadvantaged and rural areas typically receive a mental health service model characterised by lower volumes of service and provided by less highly trained providers
Professor Graham Meadows from the School of Clinical Sciences cited an example where utilisation of psychiatric and clinical psychologist services was two to three times greater in affluent areas in Melbourne and Sydney (City of Bayside and North Sydney Council) compared with disadvantaged suburbs (City of Greater Dandenong and the City of Blacktown).
“Disturbingly, we know there are greater levels of psychiatric disorder in areas with greater socio-economic disadvantage, so we should expect a fully equitable mental health care system showing a corresponding usage pattern,” Professor Meadows said.
The study was undertaken by  analysing more than 25 million instances of care from 2007 to 2011 of all Medicare-supported mental health service delivery across Australia. It shows that under the Better Access to Mental Health Care (‘Better Access’) program which was introduced in 2006, uptake rates for Psychological Therapy Services (PTS) decreased as levels of socio-economic disadvantage increase.
Professor Meadows said the findings demonstrated the Better Access initiative - while for many perhaps is providing better access - could be seen as failing on tests of equity.
“We hope our research will contribute to debate and discussion around policy incentives and strategies that work towards universal and equitable delivery of mental health care for all Australians,” he said.
Vew the full article from Monash University here.

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