Youth mental health
Improving services and support for children and young people is a matter of priority for the Mental Health Commission.
Around 75 per cent of all severe mental illness starts before the age of 24. By age 21, just over half of young people will have experienced a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. Suicide accounts for 17.8 per cent of deaths in the 15-19 year age group and nearly a quarter of all deaths in the 20-24 year age group. Good mental health is fundamental to quality of life and physical health. It contributes to the ability to find satisfying social roles in life and allows people to form positive relationships with others. For young people who are still developing socially, emotionally and physically, the development of a mental health problem or disorder can disrupt and seriously impede their social development, education, family relationships and vocational path. Mental health issues affect not only the young person, but also their family, carers, friends and the wider community. Yet there is evidence that young people do not readily access services to support their mental health needs.
Who can help?
Depending on your needs, there are many avenues to seek help in WA.
There is a range of specialised clinical and non-clinical mental health services, primary health care services, community based services, including school-based services and voluntary support. Your concerns and needs will be met by professional mental health services in a confidential and supportive environment. Some people feel embarrassed to ask for help. Online you can be anonymous and find support anywhere, anytime.
The primary health care sector, including GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and allied health workers, is ideally placed to identify mental health problems at their early stages including disorders such as anxiety, depression and co-occurring problems like physical problems, health and alcohol and other drug problems. There are assessments and screening programs for mental health which can be used to identify people who need early intervention.
New investment in youth mental health
The Mental Health Commission is dedicated to advancing a new and comprehensive youth stream approach for young people with mental health problems, and has started funding several initiatives to help support young people, including:
$3 million redevelopment of the Bentley Adolescent Unit to transform the unit into a more therapeutic environment for treating young people with mental health problems.
$22.47 million Statewide Specialist Aboriginal Mental Health Services established to provide specialist interventions, particularly to help in the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
$1.6 million of recurrent funding to WA Country Health Service (WACHS) of the Department of Health, to respond to the needs of young people in rural and remote regions through community mental health services in a youth-friendly manner.
$13 million Suicide Prevention Strategy which includes the development of community action plans targeting young people
$15.3 million towards Western Australia’s first youth early psychosis intervention and treatment facility designed specifically for young people will be the first centre of its kind in Western Australia.
- The Mental Health Commission and Department of the Attorney General are jointly implementing Western Australia’s first mental health court diversion and support project in both the Perth Magistrates Court and the Perth Children’s Court.
- Funding to Mental Health Carers Arafmi WA Inc for the changing Minds School Education Program, which aims to dispel the myths and misconceptions around mental illness and promote mental health and is presented by people with experience of mental illness.