There are number of services and issues related to services that remain outstanding and advocacy to achieve these must be ongoing. These include
THE AVAILABILITY OF AN ACCESSIBLE MAP OF YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ACROSS THE STATE
The only body capable of collating the information on youth mental health services is the state government. To have a full service map online should be a priority.
Every General Practitioner in Queensland needs to know what services are available throughout the public system as well as those provided by NGOs and those that are privately funded. A situation where a young person must endure ongoing trauma instead of being fast-tracked to more intensive treatment when required cannot be commonplace. It also vital that the general public knows what is available and generally who each service targets. The need for consumers and/or carers to advocate for the services that they need continues to be an issue. Organisations like Health Consumers Queensland (HCQ) demonstrate that it is those affected who are the experts on what will work and what won’t in service provision. And in circumstances where severity and complexity add to the challenge, it’s often the case that ONLY a young person and/or those close to them have a true understanding of what will make a difference.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR THE 13-25yr AGE BRACKET IN RELATION TO MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
Those with lived experience have lobbied for the state government to have youth-specific personnel from the level of the Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs Branch (MHAODB) on down to the teams and clinicians delivering the services. Without representation at the policy and planning level as well as ‘on the ground’, this unique stage of life will continue to be one where mental health statistics are going quickly in the wrong direction.
See our Young People (13-25 yrs old) page.
A CHILD AND Youth Unit is not enough. With any non-adult issues being addressed by a Child and Youth Unit, that scope will mean that the many issues that exist for young people that don’t apply to children will not be continually raised in the way they need to be. Also, as the parameters of the Child and Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS) ends at 18 years, it seems logical to assume that the parameters of a Child and Youth Unit within the MHAODB will do the same and those who are dealing with severe and complex mental health issues through adolescence are often not equipped to be viewed as adults simply because they have turned 18. (See our Young People (13-25 yrs old) page.)
RECOGNITION AND CHANGE IN LEGAL AND PRACTICAL ISSUES EXPERIENCED BY CARERS
The provision of greater support and education to parents and primary carers. Online courses, regular appointments for carers, not just ‘as needed’, treating the young person as part of the family unit, and not as a single patient (as happens in adult mental health.)
Addressing legal anomalies when young people 18 and over who are not yet able to live as independent adults but remain under the care of a family member or other carer who is currently given no information regarding the young person’s healthcare.
Treatment should not be concentrated solely on the young person but on them as part of the family unit.
If a person is to take on the role of a carer, they must have some information on how to interact with the young person in their care and how best to support them towards the recovery that treatment is aiming to facilitate.
A DEDICATED AND ONGOING RESEARCH PROGRAM INTO THE RECOVERY TREATMENT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WITH SEVERE AND COMPLEX MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
Evidence based data on young people in this cohort and the services that are effective is needed. This must be collected and assembled in ways that make it accessible to practitioners both nationally and internationally. This means not simply gathering data from the state AETC but from government and NGO services as well as families and primary carers. Working in collaboration with tertiary institutions will ensure a research project that has scientific validity and opportunities for proliferation.
There is no evidence based data on this cohort and although those with severity and complexity are not large in number compared with those who suffer either depression or anxiety, this group are amongst the most vulnerable of mental health sufferers. Their need is great and the capacity for effective treatment to enact change is great. If all young people with severe and complex mental health issues have access to a proven effective treatment approach, many more will move a life of welfare and dependency to one that is productive, independent and fulfilling.
Currently the fact that there is no evidence base can be used to say that there is no evidence for a particular service that has been anecdotally successful. So services AND the cohort themselves must be studied with outcomes shared in order to properly address the needs of those so negatively impacted by mental health issues.
REGIONALLY ACCESSIBLE TRAINING AND SUPPORT IN ISSUES RELATING TO THIS COHORT
See previous point re: research but also less formalised sharing of information is required so that regional clinicians and educators can learn from the experiences of those in metropolitan services that specifically focus on young people with severe and complex mental health issues.
Early identification of young people in this cohort will allow them to receive effective care more promptly which can be significant. This could mean referral to statewide services or treatment in their local community facilitated by ongoing liaison of their clinicians or teachers with metro-based professionals with more and ongoing experience.
TARGETED EDUCATION FOR EMERGENCY HEALTHCARE WORKERS IN SEVERE AND COMPLEX MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN YOUNG PEOPLE
Training and awareness is required for front line health care workers specifically in severe and complex mental health issues in young people.
Those in crisis must be responded to with understanding and in timely and meaningful ways so as to subvert the potential danger to life and health that can be at risk when young people in this cohort are in an acute phase of illness. Anecdotal reporting continues to indicate that some healthcare professionals in emergency environment are influenced in their response by judgements based on the stage of life (the fact that this is a young person/youth rather than an adult or child) or by their lack of knowledge about the ways that multiple comorbidities and difficult or traumatic circumstances can manifest.
TARGETED EDUCATION IN SEVERE AND COMPLEX MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES IN YOUNG PEOPLE FOR ALL MEDICAL AND EDUCATION STUDENTS
Training and awareness is required for all those training to be medical practitioners and teachers so that classroom educators and GPs as well as mental health specialists are aware of the existence and presenting behaviours and symptoms of severe and complex youth mental health issues.
Young people in this cohort must be referred to specialised care as soon as possible so if severity and complexity is recognised by family GPs and classroom teachers, an extended period of decline without the right service provision can be avoided.
REGIONALLY ACCESSIBLE SUPPORT SCHOOL PROGRAMS
SUPPORT SCHOOLS WITH AUGMENTED ONSITE SERVICE PROVISION
AN ACTIVE AND ACCESSIBLE HUB OF EXPERTISE FOR EDUCATORS STATEWIDE
See page on The Future of Education in Severe Youth Mental Health for more details
and of course
A WELL-FUNDED AND ONGOING CAMPAIGN TO INSTRUCT AND INFORM THE GENERAL PUBLIC ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH UNTIL IT IS WIDELY ACKNOWLEDGED AND RESPONDED TO IN THE SAME WAY AS ANY HEALTH ISSUE i.e. WITHOUT JUDGEMENT AND WITH RESPECT AND EMPATHY