Policy makers as well as health services researchers lack information on financial flows within national mental health systems. The studies that are available use different methodologies and hence it is difficult to make any comparisons. The aim of this study was to modify the existing health accounting framework and apply it to describe and analyse the financial flows within a national mental health system.
Mental health expenditures are classified by the three-dimensional methodology of OECD health accounts that is extended by two other dimensions for the purpose of the study.
The framework of five-dimensional mental health accounts is introduced and applied to mental health expenditure in the Czech Republic, 2006. Mental health expenditure is estimated to be 4.14% of the total health expenditure. Mental health expenditure is classified based on its source of financing, provider industry, health-care function, cost category and diagnostic group.
Health expenditure estimates present the most detailed information on resource allocation in the mental health system of the Czech Republic. The application of the standardized framework in other countries can improve the quality of international comparisons. On the national level, especially if the time series are available, mental health accounts can serve as a useful tool for strategic resource allocation decisions. This is particularly useful for the countries that plan changes in resource allocation directed from institutional to community-based care.