Emerging trends for mental health in-patient care in the Northern Territory's Top End

  • Leigh-Ann Lesley Onnis

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    Objective: This project identifies emerging trends in mental health in-patient care for people living in the Northern Territory’s Top End. There is a specific focus on trends for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people given the high proportion living in this region.

    Methodology: The Admitted Patient Mental Health National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) for the Darwin Mental Health Services In-patient Unit from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2010 was analysed using Stata 11 and other statistical web based programs. There were 6079 separations for the 10 years captured by this dataset. The results are discussed in context, using findings from the literature review.

    Key Findings:
     Key Finding 1: The overall number of short stay separations from the Darwin Mental Health In-patient Unit is decreasing.
     Key Finding 2: The overall number of long stay separations from the Darwin Mental Health In-patient Unit is increasing.
     Key Finding 3: The average length of stay for Indigenous patients is increasing.
     Key Finding 4: The proportion of separations for female patients for both short and long stays is increasing.
     Key Finding 5: There are a higher proportion of female patients admitted for long stays.
     Key Finding 6: The proportion of separations (short and long stay) for Indigenous people is increasing.
     Key Finding 7: The proportion of short and long stay separations for those patients whose usual place of residence was in an NT Rural or NT Remote region is increasing.
     Key Finding 8: The average age on separation for Indigenous patients is lower than the average age for non-Indigenous patients.
     Key Finding 9: The proportion of separations for male patients is higher where there has been involuntary treatment during the in-patient stay.

    This project found that whilst overall separations for each year are decreasing, the number of separations continues to increase for Indigenous people living in remote areas of the Northern Territory’s Top End. This increased service utilisation may link with improved access to mental health care through primary and specialist services, and improved mental health literacy but may also be due to increased prevalence of mental illness. The challenge for the Darwin Mental Health In-patient Unit will be to continue to meet demand while maintaining the quality of in-patient mental health care and providing a culturally safe environment.
    Date of AwardJun 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorTricia Nagel (Supervisor)

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