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The National Mental Health Strategy and Geographical Access to Mental Health Services: Some Empirical Results

  • Year: 2006
  • Author: Doessel, DP; Scheurer, Roman W; Chant, David; Whiteford, Harvey
  • Journal Name: Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, The
  • Journal Number: Vol. 12, No. 2
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Queensland

In 1992 the Australian Government adopted the National Mental Health Strategy in an attempt to improve the provision of mental health services. A component was to improve geographical access to hospital-based mental health services. This paper is concerned with determining if this objective has been achieved. Timeseries data on patients (at a regional level) with mental illness in the State of Queensland are available for the years from 1968-69 to 2002-03. A change in regional classification by the Australian Bureau of Statistics complicates the analysis by precluding certain empirical tests such as converging utilisation rates by region. To overcome this problem, it was decided to apply concepts of concentration and equality that are commonly employed in industrial economics to the regional data. The empirical results show no evidence of improving regional access following the National Mental Health Strategy: in fact the statistical results show the opposite, i.e. declining regional access.

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