Mental health and addiction services data: calculating waiting times

Waiting times reflect the length of time between the day when a client is referred to a mental health or addiction service and the day when the client is first seen by the service.


The waiting time is number of days from the date a new client was referred to an organisation to the first in-scope activity (services) the client attended at that organisation.

  • New clients are those who have not accessed mental health and addiction services in the past year. Only waiting times for new clients are measured as it is important to ensure new clients are seen in a timely manner.
  • New clients are referred to mental health or addiction services. The services clients receive is recorded against a referral record and submitted to the Ministry.
  • The first in-scope activity may be recorded on the initial referral or on a subsequent referral as long as that subsequent referral is to a team within the same organisation. Referrals that should not be counted such as declined referrals are excluded from the report.
  • The Ministry uses data from PRIMHD, the national mental health and addiction information collection of service activity and outcomes data, to calculate waiting times.

The waiting times calculation is complex and ensures the wait time is measured as accurately as possible but within the limitations of PRIMHD.

For more information see:

The 'Calculating waiting times' document was last updated in May 2022. For details about the changes please contact [email protected].

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