Patterns of mental health care provision in urban areas: a comparative analysis for local policy in the ACT

Mary Anne Furst, Jose A. Salinas-Perez, Mencia R. Gutiérrez-Colosía, John Mendoza, Nasser Bagheri, Lauren Anthes, Luis Salvador-Carulla

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Urbanisation presents specific mental health challenges, requiring a better understanding of service availability in urban areas for mental health care planning. Our objective is to analyse patterns of urban mental healthcare provision in Australia, and compare these with relevant national and international regions to inform urban mental healthcare policy and planning. Following a health ecosystems approach, we use a standardised service classification instrument, the Description and Evaluation of Services and DirectoriEs (DESDE), and Mental Health Care Atlases, to compare the availability, bed capacity and diversity of services providing specialised mental health or psychosocial care that are universally accessible (ie provided at no or low cost only in all relevant care sectors in four Australian and three international urban regions. We used a heuristics approach and an homogeneity test. Applicability to local policy was assessed using the Adoption Impact Ladder. Community care was less developed in Australia than internationally, except in the case of residential care in Australian Capital Territory, our reference area. Alternatives to hospitalisation were scarce across all regions. The Atlas was applicable to regional and local mental health planning. Differences in pattern of care between regions has implications for planning, equality of access to care and prioritisation of resources. An ecosystems approach is relevant to service planning in mental healthcare at local level.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0284241
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4 April
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2023


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