People living with psychotic illness 2010

Service and medication use

Page last updated: November 2011

Mental health care in Australia is provided through hospital-based and public specialised mental health services managed by states and territories, private sector services delivered by general practitioners, psychiatrists and psychologists and non-government organisations.

Service utilisation

The majority of people with psychotic illness used a wide variety of health services both for their mental and physical health problems (figure 11). Almost all (95.3%) had used services for their mental health problems and 81.0% had used services for their physical health problems.
  • Most people (88.2%) had visited a general practitioner in the past year.
  • Most (86.3%) had used outpatient or community clinics and ambulatory health care services in the past year.
  • Two-fifths (41.0%) presented to an emergency department and one quarter (26.4%) had done so for a psychiatric problem. In addition, 17.2% had telephone contact and 16.3% had face-to-face contact with a psychiatric emergency service.
  • One in five people (20.7%) had at least one involuntary inpatient admission and one-fifth (19.2%) were under a community treatment order in the past year.
One third (34.8%) of people with psychotic illness had one or more psychiatric inpatient admissions in the past year, with an average of 40 days in hospital (figure 12).
  • Two-fifths (43.0%) spent from four to thirteen weeks in psychiatric inpatient treatment.

Medication use

Most (91.6%) people were taking prescribed medications in the previous four weeks, with four-fifths (81.6%) taking antipsychotics.
  • The majority of people were on atypical psychotics (74.0%) (figure 13).
Newer 'atypicals' better control delusions and hallucinations, however, they do not alleviate other symptoms for which people may receive a variety of medications.
  • 37.4% were on antidepressants.
  • 26.7% were on mood stabilisers.
Medication side effects were common, with 44.7% experiencing drowsiness, 39.5% dry or watery mouths and 37.5% weight gain.
  • People reported that the impact of the side effects on their daily lives was moderate or severe for 29.9%.
Two-fifths (41.1%) were also using medications for physical health conditions. The most common medications were cardiovascular (18.2%), followed by endocrine (14.7%). Top of page

Figure 11: Service use in the past year


Refer to the following table for a text equivalent of figure 11: service use in the past year

Text version of figure 11

Service useAny health (%)Mental health (%)Physical health (%)
General practitioner88.249.376.3
Outpatient/ community clinic86.382.223.2
Emergency department41.026.421.3
Involuntary admission-20.7-
Inpatient admission43.734.813.3
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Figure 12: Psychiatric inpatient treatment in the past year

Refer to the following list for a text equivalent of figure 12: Psychiatric inpatient treatment in the past year

Text version of figure 12

Psychiatric inpatient treatment in the past year:
  • Less than 2 weeks - 25.4%
  • 2 to <4 weeks - 22.1%
  • 4 to <13 weeks - 43%
  • 13 to <26 weeks - 6.7%
  • 26 to <52 weeks - 2.7%
  • Full year - 0%
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Figure 13: Medication use in the past year

Refer to the following list for a text equivalent of figure 13: medication use in the past year
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Text version of figure 13

Medication use in the past year for mental health problems:
  • Antipsychotic
    • Atypical antipsychotics: all - 74%
    • Clozapine - 16.4%
    • Typical antipsychotics - 15.2%
  • Other
    • Antidepressants - 37.4%
    • Mood stabilisers - 26.7%
    • Anxiolytics, hypnotics, sedatives - 17.8%
    • Anticholinergics - 4.2%
    • Alcohol, nicotine or opioid dependence related - 3.5%
  • Total on medication for mental health - 91.6%
  • Supplements for mental health - 21.9%
Medication use in the past year for physical conditions:
  • Cardiovascular - 18.2%
  • Endocrine (any) - 14.7%
  • Gastrointestinal - 12.8%
  • Respiratory - 6%
  • Blood and electrolytes - 4%
  • Neurological - 3.8%
  • Musculoskeletal - 3.7%
  • Genitourinary - 0.8%
  • Total on medication for physical health - 41.1%
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