Aim: Expert opinion holds that the rate of implementation of specialist services for first presentation psychosis in Australia is much too slow. We aimed to collect evidence regarding this view from the first national survey of adult public mental health services about their self-reported efforts to implement specialist early psychosis intervention (EPI).
Methods: Using a purpose-designed Census form for assessing EPI implementation, adult public mental health service directors throughout Australia were asked about EPI-relevant local service activities.
Results: Sixty Census forms were returned (response rate = 61%), representing a total catchment population of 12.5 million people. A minority of services reported high levels of EPI implementation, which varied widely between area services and across state and territory jurisdictions. Rural and remote services were overrepresented in the lowest levels of reported EPI implementation. Only one service characteristic, the value of identifiable funding committed specifically to EPI, was predictive of level of reported EPI implementation.
Conclusions: The disturbingly high levels of variability in EPI implementation across jurisdictions suggest a pressing need for a set of nationally agreed uniform EPI implementation standards. Additional specific strategies for rural and remote mental health services may be needed for these services to implement EPI.