July 26, 2006

Australia Launches Major Program for Teen Mental Health

On July 18th the Australian government launched a major new initiative targeting early identification and integrated treatment of mental health problems when they most frequently start - in teens and early adult years.

In a press release that covered the new program the following information was conveyed:

Mental health is the number one health issue affecting young people in Australia today, yet only one in four of these young people receive professional help.

Approximately 14% of 12-17 year olds and 27% of 18-25 year olds experience mental health problems each year - that’s one million young Australians needing access to help. (Note: In the US, the total number is likely to be approximately 12 million young people per year that need access to mental health services - and given the poor insurance coverage for mental health in the US, the percent of these children and young adults that actually get effective treatment is likely to be much lower than the 25% estimated in Australia, where they have universal health care).

However, many do not have ready access to treatment or are reluctant to seek that help and this often leads to drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, homelessness and isolation.

75% of all people with a mental illness have problems that can be traced back to when they were under 25.

To address this issue, the Australian Ministry for Health and Ageing, has launched headspace, which will ensure there is effective help available. headspace represents the Youth Mental Health Foundation, established through the Australian Government’s $69 million investment in youth mental health, of which headspace will receive over $50 million in funding.

"The Australian Government initative headspace will establish a network of youth mental health service providers and will build a national approach to address mental illness in young Australians." Mr Pyne said.

headspace will improve availability and utilization of mental health services for young people over three years by providing easier access and early intervention for young people with mental health problems.

This will be achieved through the partnership of community services with leading clinical expertise to tackle the issues in a more user-friendly environment at sites in metropolitan, regional and remote areas across Australia.

headspace combines the expertise of ORYGEN Research Centre, The Australian Divisions of General Practice, The Australian Psychological Society, and The Brain and Mind Research Institute to make up the Foundation’s consortium.

The headspace consortium will be guided by a host of prominent Australians on an Advisory Board set up by the Australian Government earlier this year..

"Too many of our youth are suffering the debilitating problems associated with mental illness and are presented with few options under the current system. As a consequence many are falling through the gaps," Mr Stokes (Chairman of the headspace Advisory Board) said.

"The headspace model addresses this through combining leading clinical expertise with adequately resourced community services to ensure that the right help is available and taken up by those in need of support."

headspace will run a program of service development grants, professional training and research and community awareness activities, leading to better access, better care and better outcomes for young people. Over the next three years, headspace centres will be established in cities, rural and remote centres across Australia.

In the next twelve months it is planned to have 10 headspace centres established as community based partnerships to provide much required help and greater awareness of the issue to encourage the take up of services.

headspace is funded by the Australian Government under the Promoting Better Mental Health – Youth Mental Health Initiative.
headspace will:

· Implement the $37 million youth services development program to enable organisations who already deliver youth mental health services to restructure and enhance their current activities
in a more targeted and coordinated way.

· Develop and provide training support programs to a range of service providers and other health professionals working with young people with mental health problems.

· Establish a Centre of Excellence to collect, analyse and disseminate the latest research for health professionals regarding the best treatments available for young people with mental health and substance use issues. The Centre will support and generate new research in the area of youth mental health.

· Build the awareness of Youth Mental Health issues to provide better understanding and encourage greater adoption of available help at an earlier stage by young people.

"The existing service system can often be fragmented and this is where family and friends can really make a difference by identifying potential problems and offering support and encouragement to young people who really need help," said Professor Patrick McGorry, Executive Director of ORYGEN, the lead consortium agency of

For more information on headspace, visit www.headspace.org.au

headspace – what it does

A major aim of headspace is to better coordinate and integrate the activities of mental health services, general practitioners, drug and alcohol services and vocational support to try to prevent young people falling through the gaps. It will offer better access and youth-friendly environments.

Its major activities will include funding to improve youth mental health services, providing professional training,
supporting research and raising community awareness about youth mental health.

Specifically, to help young people who have mental-health and related drug and alcohol problems, headspace will:

• Implement the youth services development program. This provides funding of about $37 million to a minimum of 30 centres in metropolitan, regional and remote areas. It will enable
organisations that already provide youth mental health services to rebuild their existing service coordination, leading to better-integrated, more accessible and higher-quality services
for people aged 12-25 and their families. These services will specialise in detection and early intervention, and in evidence-based approaches to working with the young. They will allow continuous evaluation and service improvement.

• Develop and provide training support programs to a range of service providers and other health professionals working with young people. Education and training programs and resources will be based on evidence-based practice, and will be designed to deepen service
providers’ capacity to work with young people with mental-health and related substance-use disorders.

• Improve public awareness of mental health issues, drawing on the support of leading mental-health experts and many well-known Australians. Their activities will be designed to encourage young people, their families and friends to seek early help when someone is
experiencing difficulties.

• Establish a Centre of Excellence in Melbourne to collect, analyse and disseminate the latest research to health professionals about the best kinds of treatment. The centre will work with services funded through the Youth Services Development Program to improve outcomes for
young people. It will also support and generate new research in youth mental health.

headspace is funded by the Australian Government under the Promoting Better Mental Health – Youth Mental Health Initiative.

Youth mental health – facts and figures

Mental-health and related substance-use disorders comprise the number one health issue affecting young Australians. headspace will support major initiatives to improve the mental health, social wellbeing and economic participation of young Australians by promoting early and effective treatment – early intervention can make a big difference. Australian Government funding will enable headspace to develop a national approach that provides better access and quality care for people aged 12- 25.

Key statistics
• About 14 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 27 per cent of 18- to 25-year-olds experience mental-health and related alcohol and substance-use problems each year.

• At least 75 per cent of mental-health problems among adults begin before 25 years of age, and mental-health difficulties in youth precede up to 50 per cent of alcohol and substance use problems.

• High suicide rates in early to middle adult years can result from untreated mental-health problems in the late teenage and early adult years.

• Overall, mental-health problems and related substance-use disorders account for between 60 and 70 per cent of the non-fatal burden of disease among 15- to 24-year-olds.

• Only one young person in four with mental-health problems receives professional help.

Among those with the most severe problems, only 50 per cent receive professional help.

Intervention and treatment

Our understanding of treatments for mental illness has never been better.

• Early intervention is essential to ensure that young people keep in touch with their community and families, friends, school or work.

• Access to appropriate early treatment will help to prevent many young people from dropping out of school or work, or needing repeated treatment for the effects of self-harm or substance intoxication at hospital emergency departments.

• Particular attention needs to be given to young people with moderately severe problems, especially where complex mental illness occurs simultaneously with drug and alcohol disorders, personality disorders or crime-related issues.

For more information see the headspace web site.


Will the children in the age group of 12-17 will be treated by Drugs or Behaviour therapy?

Posted by: captainjohann at July 27, 2006 02:43 AM


I spoke by phone with one of the administrators of the program - and there will be both behavior and drug therapy - no changes in that regard. The focus is on education of the public (parents and teens), and developing centers and co-ordinating centers (drug and mental illness treatment coordination) and making access easier - so that a higher percent of the people get treatment as early as possible.


Posted by: SzAdministrator at July 27, 2006 09:42 AM

Dear sir,
I undeerstand the drugs which are some times prescribed are prohibited by FDA like respirodone,zyprexa,quetepine etc for adolescents in the age group mentioned.

Posted by: captainjohann at July 28, 2006 01:34 AM

There are already various organisations/structures both public & private in place In Victoria, Australia that co-ordinate the same things that "Headspace" is purported to be endeavouring to establish - Why not invest the funds into these existing places whom already have their infrastructures established and also link them up so they work alongside one another and not always as separate entities?
Seems to me that the Australian Government is investing funds into a new organisation which will soak up administration costs rather than investing in the already existing ones established in the community!
As far as Educationing the Public about Mental health goes, this would be most effectively achieved by having Carers and those able, who are suffering with a Mental illness - particularly the so called less socially acceptable ones like Schizoprenhia give talks or forums in the local Secondary schools - Teenagers are not interested in so called "Experts" opinions , they prefer the real life scenarios as they are more able to relate to these.
The reality is that now in Victoria, Australia Young people suffering mental illness have to make upwards of 20 calls a day to even try and find a bed for the night off the streets. Those that are on the streets and suffering with a mental illness often have limited insight into their illness and so whets required is some "hands on" assistance for these young people at risk. The reality is that most of the Public Psych wards are full and the Rehabilitation places are even worse - why isn't the Funds being channeled into these areas rather than setting up more organisations who push pens and where the funds are often NOT transferred to where the REAL need is - more Psycho - social Rehab places better Pysch facilities on wards especially for this age bracket 17 -25 years; More specifically what's required is better co-ordination for the existing services so they can all work TOGETHER to assist persons suffering a mental illness and at risk in the community and lastly to support the families who are often left on their own to cope the best way they can

Posted by: RBH at July 31, 2006 01:00 AM

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