Launch of new services for young people with complex mental health needs

The Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network this week announced that it has commissioned new early intervention services to meet the needs of young people with, or at risk of, severe mental illness.

“A range of new services are beginning to roll out across our region”, said PHN CEO Richard Nankervis.

“The aim of these services is to fill a gap that Professor Pat McGorry has called the missing middle

“Currently people with mild to moderate mental health conditions are well covered through the primary care system and people who are in immediate and severe crisis are covered by the hospital sector, but presently there is inadequate specialist, multidisciplinary care in the middle.”

“These new services will help fill that gap and will be provided through existing headspace centres,” Mr Nankervis said.

In the Hunter, Samaritans who operate headspace Maitland will be delivering services for the Muswellbrook, Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains LGA’s.

“The commencement of Youth Complex Mental Health Services in the Hunter has been desperately needed for a long time. We see many representations each month that would be better serviced by this specialist program and we expect it to deliver fantastic outcomes for young people with complex mental health concerns,” Clinical and Service Integration Manager for headspace Maitland, Felicity Scott, said.

On the Central Coast the Local Health District who operates headspace Gosford and Lake Haven will be providing new services in the Wyong area.

“All of these providers are currently managing headspace centres across our region so they are highly experienced in providing services to young people,” Mr Nankervis said.

“We have established a skilled and experienced team who are excited to start working across the Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains areas,” Felicity Scott said.

The funding of these new services follows a comprehensive assessment process by the PHN and took into account factors associated with mental illness in young people.

A key goal of the PHN is to improve access to quality care for young people (12-25yrs) with, or at risk of developing severe mental illness. We want young people to get the right care at the right time and in the right place.

This new approach is referred to as a stepped care model and a young person’s journey will be determined by the severity of their mental illness.

Stepped care is defined as an evidence-based, staged system comprising a hierarchy of interventions, from the least to the most intensive, matched to the individual’s needs.

In a stepped care approach, a person presenting to the mental health system is matched to the intervention level that most suits their current need.

An individual does not generally have to start at the lowest, least intensive level of intervention in order to progress to the next ‘step’. Rather, they enter the system and have their service level aligned to their requirements.

A stepped care approach promotes person-centred care which targets the needs of the individual. Rather than offering a one size fits all approach to care, individuals will be more likely to receive a service which more optimally matches their needs, does not under or over service them, and also makes the best use of workforce and technology.