Aboriginal Youth Enhanced Mental Health Program
July 2019 - June 2023
The Aboriginal Youth Enhanced Mental Health Program at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Services (VAHS) provides treatment and support to young Aboriginal people experiencing, or at risk of, severe mental health issues.
It provides culturally safe mental health support that improves wellbeing for Aboriginal youth through child psychiatry practices, psychological therapies, and tailored case management.
The key principles are providing care that:
- is person-centred and trauma-informed
- involves shared decision-making
- focuses on building relationships
- is socially and culturally appropriate
- includes families.
Through this program, clients can access:
- supportive psychotherapies
- diagnosis and psychiatric review
- care coordination
- secondary consultation
- treatment and monitoring
- referral to other psychosocial supports, such as alcohol and other drugs (AOD) and housing services
- mental health assessments
- cultural assessments and supports.
The workforce includes a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist and Aboriginal health workers. These care teams can regularly engage with social workers and AOD workers.
The central role of Aboriginal health workers ensures cultural sensitivity is considered during engagement with Aboriginal youth and complements the work of non-Aboriginal clinicians. The significance of this position builds trust, security, and comfort for clients, empowering them to engage and participate in their mental health treatment.
This program engages young Aboriginal people who may otherwise miss out on access to mental health care and support.
Other intended outcomes include:
- connecting young Aboriginal people with needed health and social services
- supporting young Aboriginal people to live safely at home
- supporting young Aboriginal people to engage with education or employment
- supporting young Aboriginal people to engage with their mental health and adhere to medication regimes.
VAHS is a trusted provider who submits narrative and data reports for evaluation, and engages in quality improvement activities to ensure the program’s continued success.