$2.5m to help young people with severe psychological distress

13 July, 2017

With one fifth of young people experiencing very high or high levels of psychological distress¹, Eastern Melbourne PHN (EMPHN) today announced it has commissioned $2.5m worth of services to enable extra front-line staff to support more people aged 12-25 with, or at risk of, severe and enduring mental illness.

The programs will be delivered by Eastern Health (YETTI - Youth Engagement Treatment Team Initiative) and Neami National (YFlex - Flexible Intensive Mental Health Support for Young People) over the coming year. The program is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the PHN Program.

EMPHN CEO Robin Whyte said, in Victoria suicide is the leading cause of death in people aged 15 to 24² and young people often don’t act quickly when experiencing the onset of a mental health issue, which can quickly affect their education, friendships and development.

“By gaining the right support, in the right place, at the right time, young people are more likely to continue with education and employment, maintain relationships with family and friends and experience better overall health and wellbeing.”

Eastern Health’s Acting Associate Program Director of Child and Youth Mental Health Service Lynne Allison said, it is crucial that young people are able to receive help early, and before mental health problems have the chance to seriously impact their wellbeing.

“Eastern Health is very concerned about the rise of mental health problems in young people.  We welcome this initiative which will enable many more young people to receive assistance and look forward to working with GPs, Eastern Melbourne PHN and others in primary health to provide early treatment and care to young people and their families,” she said.

Neami Acting CEO Jenny Hall said, Neami has 30 years of experience providing specialist outreach support to people experiencing psychological distress.

“We see this new EMPHN initiative as a terrific opportunity to provide a desperately needed service to young people who are currently at risk of falling through gaps in service provision in Mitchell, Murrindindi and Whittlesea,” she said.

headspace youth representative Kate (23) said, “Experiencing mental health difficulties can be pretty scary, and it’s hard to know where to go for support, especially if you live out in the more remote areas. It’s not easy for young people to ask for help, and navigating the service system can be overwhelming and seem all too hard. Having this service in place will mean that young people can access the supports they need when they need it, and where they need it.”

Federal Member for Deakin Michael Sukkar MP said, “This funding will go a long way in helping young people suffering mental illness and those at risk of developing severe psychological distress. It is welcome news for residents and mental health service providers in Deakin, who will be among those to benefit from this commitment.”

The two programs will operate throughout EMPHN’s catchment and will make the transition into and between levels of mental health care easier for young people and their families.

The program will include community based outreach services, for example within GP clinics, particularly targeting young people in growth and semi-rural areas where accessing mental health services can be more difficult.

Eastern Health will service Boroondara, Knox, Manningham, Maroondah, Monash, Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges, with Austin Health servicing Banyule and Nillumbik, and working closely with headspace and other community agencies.

Neami National has been appointed to deliver services in Whittlesea and southern parts of Mitchell and Murrindindi, based on its experience meeting the needs of young people in growth and semi-rural areas as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Each program will test a new model developed in consultation with the sector and community that is based on a similar models that have been implemented across Australia.

The programs will be independently evaluated to help inform future mental health services for young people in EMPHN’s catchment, with a further $2.5m planned to be invested in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Eastern Melbourne PHN works to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for people in the eastern and north-eastern areas of Melbourne, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes, to improve coordination of care and ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. EMPHN works across an area of 3,956 km² comprising a population of more than 1.5 million people. www.emphn.org.au