Socio-economic disadvantage and resource distribution for mental health care: a model proposal and example application for Victoria, Australia

Graham Meadows, Frances Shawyer, Shrinkhala Dawadi, Brett Inder, Joanne Enticott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: A spreadsheet-based model for supporting equitable mental health resource distribution in Australia was developed, based on the Australian Health Survey (AHS) psychological distress findings associated with area socio-economic disadvantage (SED). An illustrative application is presented. Method: Stratum-specific psychological-distress rates for area SED quintiles are applied to local government areas, catchment areas and local health networks (LHNs). A case study applies the model to Victoria, including examining recommendations in the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health Services (RCVMHS) 2019 interim report for increases to bed stock in two LHNs. Results: Need-adjusted demand estimates considered as a ratio of raw population proportions for catchments range between 0.6 to 1.4 in Victoria. Applying the formula to the Royal Commission recommendations suggests the proposed distribution of beds is a reasonable correction for these two LHNs and indicates next expansion priorities for more equitable distribution to other LHNs. Conclusions: The spreadsheet, adaptable for other states and territories, could complement National Mental Health Services Planning Framework outputs and assist in evaluation, for instance, determining potential supply shortages in the tele-mental-health response to COVID-19. We outline research directions including consideration of the moral bases of value judgements and identification of other variables including their use in parameterisation and calibration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-162
Number of pages6
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • distributive justice
  • health disparities
  • mental health services
  • socio-economic status

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