The services needed for young people and their families affected by severe and complex youth mental health issues are wide-ranging. There must a full and integrated system available to enable access to treatment, skill development, education, training, financial, accommodation and legal support and more. To partition these services is extremely problematic as no young person deals with their multiple issues in separate compartments – the combined effect creates an individual with unique challenges and therefore, unique needs. And no need can be addressed in isolation.
However, for the purposes of service provision – particularly government services, there are departmental divisions to enable allocation of roles and responsibilities. So, to ensure that these demarcations do not mean that a young person is viewed as having separate and discrete issues, the collaboration between all of these departments, units and groups is ESSENTIAL. Service providers of any kind must have appropriate (ensuring adherence to privacy issues) access to information on what the young person’s issues and needs are across the board. Only if this is the case, will the understand the young person’s situation and be able to provided the most targeted service themselves.
It is hoped that those with expertise in this area – through lived experience or clinical knowledge and practice – will continue to focus on what is needed achieve the best outcome for young people who have high, complex and enduring clinical and support needs. A longer term inpatient treatment, rehabilitation and education option is a vital element but it is also a priority that such a service exists within a fully integrated and comprehensive system of care that meets the needs of ALL young people with mental health issues at EVERY stage of recovery and every level of severity. And to create and then continually evolve such a system, organised and purposeful research must be underway across all aspects of service provision. Methods (e.g. the use of available and emerging technologies) must be explored to access greater input from those whose illness continues to isolate them – not only in order to gather evidence that might prevent future generations from having to endure the multiple effects of severe and complex mental illness, but to establish therapeutic connections that can continue to engage young people and their families in treatment, education and other support services. In addition, greater understanding of the reality of living with the issues of severe and complex adolescent mental illness must be actively facilitated across numerous groups. This would include Emergency Department staff, local GPs/mental health specialists whose experience has never been with the severe and complex adolescent cohort, educators and the wider public. When the multiple daily limitations and challenges begin to be understood by all those who have contact with those affected, improved service is surely inevitable. So consumers/carers undertaking to share personal stories that describe their own experiences through the development of resources and training materials should be supported and facilitated wherever possible.
Services are needed. But so much more will be essential. Structures, systems, education, research projects – and the funding required to to undertake these – must be considered as equally important as specific service options. Because as vital what becomes available will always be, it is equally important to ensure that everything is delivered in the best way, ensuring that the young person and those close to him as seen as both individuals and whole people with their own complex needs. And every part of this comprehensive system must continue to evolve to match the needs of those whose struggle can often be so challenging that they can become disillusioned with primary care and disengaged from seeking any support at all.
So, although all services must overlap, blend and work together, the sub-categories of HEALTH, EDUCATION, and OTHER on this site will seek to address the issues being dealt with by the government response via the departments responsible for these areas.