11 April 2019

Rising to the challenge: providing services to young people with complex mental health needs

Rising to the challenge: providing services to young people with complex mental health needs

How to better support young people with complex mental health issues was the focus of a two-day symposium recently held in Melbourne.

Delivered by the primary health team at Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, the ‘Rising to the challenge’ symposium attracted over 250 people from around Australia who attended to discuss how to best designi and deliver services for young people experiencing severe and complex mental health issues.

This was the first time the Primary Health Team had brought together Public Health Networks (PHNs) and service providers to discuss youth mental health. The program featured a mix of big picture thinking and local level implementation with presentations from young people, PHNs, service providers, clinicians and researchers.

The program was made up of keynote presentations, concurrent sessions and panel discussions. The first day focussed on current service provision and evidence, and the second, the future directions of youth mental health.

Participants seemed to particularly value the opportunity to hear from other service providers and to learn about the different programs said Sian Lloyd, Manager Primary Health Programs.  “Working in this space can be difficult, and many found it reassuring to hear from other service providers on the same journey who are facing similar challenges.”

Ms Lloyd said the young people were a particular highlight for all involved, because their voices are so important in driving these conversations’.

“There were many highlights, including a presentation from Swathi Shanmukhasundaram, Ali Noura and Sophia Eyob from the Centre for Multicultural Youth who provided a noteworthy insight into the challenges of seeking help in different cultural communities,” Ms Lloyd said.

The discussions around digital technology were highly valued, and many participants commented that they have returned to their workplaces with new ideas and new motivations to incorporate more e-health into their everyday practice.

“We are proud that the symposium brought a renewed enthusiasm to the work that we are all doing in this space, we hope that the symposium has given participants inspiration and motivation going forward,” said Ms Lloyd.

The youth enhanced program is new initiative funded by Commonwealth Government to provide services to young people often referred to as the ‘missing middle.’ These are young people who are too unwell to be seen by headspace services but do not reach threshold for state based tertiary services. These new services are commissioned by the 31 PHNs across Australia. The role of the primary health team is to support PHNs in the commissioning of these services to ensure they are evidence based, accessible, culturally appropriate and inclusive.