Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Australia: A descriptive analysis between 2015–16 and 2019–20

Matthew Brazel, Stephen Allison, Tarun Bastiampillai, Stephen R. Kisely, Jeffrey C.L. Looi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Objective: To provide analysis and commentary on Australian state/territory child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) expenditure, inpatient and ambulatory structure and key performance indicators. 

Method: Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and the Australian Bureau of Statistics were descriptively analysed. 

Results: Between 2015–16 and 2019–20, overall CAMHS expenditure increased by an average annual rate of 3.6%. Per capita expenditure increased at a higher rate than for other subspeciality services. CAMHS admissions had a higher cost per patient day, shorter length of stay, higher readmission rate and lower rates of significant improvement. Adolescents aged 12–17 had high community CAMHS utilisation, based on proportion of population coverage and number of service contacts. CAMHS outpatient outcomes were similar to other age-groups. There were high rates of ‘Mental disorder not otherwise specified’, depression and adjustment/stress-related disorders as principal diagnoses in community CAMHS episodes. 

Conclusions: CAMHS inpatient admissions had lower rates of significant improvement and higher 14-day readmission rates than other ages. Australia’s young population had a high outpatient CAMHS contact rate. Evidence-based modelling of CAMHS providers and outcomes may inform future service improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445–451
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number4
Early online date6 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • beds
  • Child and adolescent mental health services
  • expenditure
  • key performance indicators
  • mental health


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