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Mental health attracting higher staff numbers

11 April 2012 - 5:54pm

New figures released by the federal government indicate that the Australian mental health workforce is continuing to grow.

According to the latest workforce information from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the number of psychiatrists - as well as those in training - has increased steadily in the four years to 2009.

"The number of nurses who work principally in mental health increased at an average yearly rate of 1.5 per cent over the same period," AIHW spokesperson Brent Diverty said today (April 11).

Nationally, there were approximately 18 full time equivalent (FTE) psychiatrists and 69 FTE mental health nurses per 100,000 people in 2009.

The report found that the highest rate of psychiatrists was in major cities, while inner regional areas attracted the highest rate of mental health nurses.

Among nurses who worked principally in mental health, 82 per cent were registered nurses and approximately 5 per cent of all nurses employed in Australia indicated working principally in mental health.

According to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, one in five Australians will experience some form of mental illness in their lives.

Some private health insurance policies may help to cover the costs of psychological services outside of Medicare's current system.