Key messages

  • Victoria’s mental health services annual report 2017-18 is a useful tool for health services, staff, advocates, carers, consumers and the broader community to better understand the Victorian public mental health system and the services available for people with a mental illness.
  • The report includes data on various aspects of our services and system, reflecting the Victorian Government's commitment to accountability and transparency.
  • It contributes to community understanding of, and discussion about Victoria's public mental health system and services, and the experiences of people with mental illness, their families and carers.


The Victorian Government is committed to reporting annually to parliament and the community on state funded mental health services. Victoria's mental health services annual report 2017-18 is the third to be tabled by the Victorian Government as part of its work to ensure increased accountability and transparency. 

This report provides an outline of Victorian Government funded mental health services and the Victorians who accessed them for treatment, care and support in 2017-18. This includes a range of hospital and community-based clinical mental health services, and non-clinical services provided by mental health community support services. 

Victoria's mental health services annual report 2017-18 also provides an update on a range of initiatives under Victoria's 10-year mental health plan, including work to reduce suicide in local communities, support and strengthen our mental health workforce and improve resilience, social and emotional wellbeing and mental health in the Victorian Aboriginal community.

Monitoring progress and reporting on outcomes under our 10-year mental health plan helps us understand the impact of our programs and services on people’s lives over time.

Importantly, the report includes some deeply personal accounts of hope, resilience and recovery.   

Download Victoria's mental health services annual report 2017–18 (PDF, 3.6mb)

The year at a glance

Year in review – public mental health services in 2017–18

Source of mental health referrals, 2017-18
Figure 3: Source of mental health referrals, 2017–18
The mental health data we collect helps us to understand who accesses our services and how, the service settings and circumstances in which treatment is provided, and whether that treatment results in better outcomes. It also tells us about demand for, and use of, our services.

There were 72,859 registered clients in 2017–18, which is almost 1.2 per cent of Victoria's population. Most clients were adults, however increases of 10-12 per cent in client numbers occurred across all age groups. Just over half were women, while nearly 33 per cent lived in rural areas. People were referred to clinical mental health services mostly by hospitals (including emergency departments), while some were referred by GPs or their families.

There were 92,610 mental health-related emergency department presentations in 2017–18. Across all age groups there were 26,098 hospitalisations in mental health acute inpatient units in 2017–18. Of these admissions, half (50.3 per cent) were compulsory. 

Download the report to find out more.

Delivering HOPE at St Vincent’s Hospital

The Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) program provides dedicated and practical outreach support for people leaving hospital following a suicide attempt or intentional self-harm. The HOPE trials operate across six hospitals in Victoria, including St Vincent’s Hospital.

‘As a team, we know that the HOPE program has been invaluable to both clients and their loved ones following a suicide attempt or engagement in suicidal or risky behaviours.

It’s a privilege to work alongside those who have come so close to suicide and to see clients and their families make positive changes and talk openly about how to keep safe in the future. As they move along their recovery journey from suicidality, it can be tough and challenging, but we know there is real strength in making and developing human connections. We aim to become a supportive and reliable contact who can be called upon in a suicidal crisis and who can hold and foster hope for a life beyond suicidality.’

Lilli Haig-Wood, Team Leader
Penny Schleiger, Senior Clinician
Juliet Thornton, Clinician
Hennie Lanting, Family Support Worker

Woman comforting another woman, with her hand on the woman's shoulder and other hand holding the woman's hand

Mental health and alcohol and other drug hubs in major emergency departments

Investment announced in the 2018-19 State Budget includes funding, over four years, to establish six emergency department hubs across the state for people with urgent mental health and alcohol and other drug (AOD) issues. The six hubs will be located at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Barwon Health, Monash Medical Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sunshine and Frankston Hospitals.

The hubs will be staffed by psychiatrists, psychiatric registrars, social workers, mental health nurses, peer support workers, AOD specialists, nurse practitioners and security personnel. They will work together in a dedicated area of the emergency department to provide assessments and therapeutic interventions.

The hubs will provide a timely, recovery-oriented response in an environment that is more suitable for people experiencing mental health or AOD-related crises. Waiting for long periods in high-stimulus environments can exacerbate mental health crises, which can be distressing not only for the person but also for other patients, visitors and staff.

Cloudy sky with edge of building to the right with the word 'emergency' on a sign

Will’s experience with Orygen Youth Health

Will is 26 years old and lives with his mother in a one-bedroom apartment in Melbourne’s west. Will presented to Orygen two years ago after police found him sitting on the roof of a building site. Will had reportedly contemplated jumping off the building. Will was first supported by Orygen’s Mood Clinic before being transferred to the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre.

Will described a full range of depressive symptoms dating back many years, which had increased in intensity following his sister’s suicide 18 months before. He later reported psychotic symptoms including daily auditory command hallucinations. Diagnosed with treatment-resistant schizophrenia and severe major depressive disorder, Will had a prolonged recovery trajectory.

During his time at Orygen, Will received a comprehensive package of care. He engaged with cognitive behaviour therapy to treat and manage his schizophrenia and depression, family therapy and the group program. Orygen liaised closely with Will’s employer and school, which assisted his return to his apprenticeship. With an improved medication regimen, Will has reported having a far better ability to manage difficulties with his experiences of depression, anxiety and attenuated psychotic symptoms. 

Man sitting with hands together, with doctor in foreground facing the man

Listening to consumers

Listening and responding to the experiences of people who use our public mental health services is a fundamental part of identifying what is working well and what needs improving. 

The 'Your Experience of Service' (YES) survey is an important tool for understanding how people experience our public clinical mental health services. YES captures information about people's experience of care, including the development of care plans and how the service supports their ability to manage their day-to-day lives.

The YES survey was carried out for the third time in 2017-18, with a total of 2,532 survey responses completed by people aged 16 or older. The results show most clients feel their individuality and values were respected and that they had opportunities for family and carers to be involved in their treatment or care if they wanted. In terms of overall experience of care in the previous three months, 28.7 per cent rated this as very good and 36.6 per cent as excellent.