Annual Conference

TheMHS 2015 S102: Early Intervention for Youth

By August 29, 2015 No Comments

Headspace update: Progressing early intervention in youth mental health – Debra Rickwood

Debra is the Chief Scientific Advisor at headspace. Headspace began in 2006 in response to a need for services directed at teens and early adults. During this period of life individuals are known to be vulnerable to mental illness. In this age group there are higher levels of mental illness and lower rates of help seeking behaviours. The centres do more than just provide mental health care they also deliver physical and sexual health care, support for substance use and educational help. The services are free or low cost and aim to break down barriers regarding access to these services. Over time a rich collection of data is being built up. When young people enter the service they are given an iPad to enter their information. Data is collected form a large number of young people who are accessing this service each year meaning Debra has access to a large sample. The data is analysed to provide insight into who uses the centres, why they are going, what they are going in for and many other aspects of headspace and mental health. In the future the data will continue to be collected and analysed to further understand the mental health of young people and improve their access to services.     


Amelia Callaghan – Centre Regional Manager 

Amelia presented some of the data that has been collected by headspace. She explained that the biggest users of the service are females in the 15-17-age rage. Compared to the general population there are higher rates of minority groups represented in those who access headspace. The centres are providing access to 80% of consumers within 2 weeks or less. This highlights the need for access to more staff and centres as the demand of headspace grows each year. The most common reason for visiting is mental health issues. The data also shows that although a young person may go in for one issue they often request help in other areas of their life. The research presented is valuable to identify the current behaviours of young people and what can be done to improve their interaction with the service in the future. 

Expanding service options online through eheadspace. – Sandra Radovini

Sandra spoke about eheadspace the online platform of the service. Eheadspace is an instant messaging service providing help to young people online between the hours of 6am to 1am. The data shows that this service is most popular with younger teenage users and females. The most common reason for access to this service is individuals wanting help dealing with their feelings. This service is appealing due to the anonymity it provides. It can also be easier for some young people to talk about their feelings through text rather than face-to-face. There is a lot of demand for this service and most who access it are finding it useful. An interesting statistic is that 44% who access have never accessed any other service. This highlights the importance of providing help over this platform. Sandra also spoke about the early psychosis program being run at three centres around Australia. This program provides help for young people at risk or experiencing their first episode of psychosis. There is a stage-by-stage evaluation framework for the program. Hopefully in the future this service can extend to other headspace centres around the country. 

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