Getting in early to treat first episode psychosis

  16 February 2017  NWMPHN   

Some of the most vulnerable young people in our community will soon have better access to mental health care, with the announcement of $1.5m for three new service partnerships targeting first episode youth psychosis.

Each partnership will focus on a different at-risk group of young people, including young Aboriginal people, those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and 12-14 years old experiencing psychosis for the first time.

These new partnerships come on top of additional funding provided to regional headspace centres last year to improve access and capacity.

Headspace centres in Sunshine, Werribee, Craigieburn, Glenroy and Collingwood have all received funds to make them more accessible, tackle issues related to alcohol and other drugs, and deliver targeted outreach activities that address the needs of at-risk young people.

North Western Melbourne PHN CEO Adj/Associate Professor Christopher Carter said the $1.5m is the first Commonwealth funding targeted specifically towards treating youth psychosis locally in Melbourne’s north and west.

“These services are all about improving access to treatment for young people at a real crisis point,” A/Prof Carter said. “Centre based care isn’t right for everyone, so by using techniques like assertive outreach and telehealth we can help those people get assistance that works for them.”

A/Prof Carter said beginning treatment and ongoing care as early as possible following the first episode of psychosis is crucial to better health outcomes for patients.

“If we can connect young people with quality care when they are still in the early stages of illness, then we have the best chance to reduce both duration and impact of their mental health issues.”

The method of selecting the services was as innovative as the services themselves, with strong sector-wide consultation and consumers and carers an integral part of the assessment and decision-making process.

New services include:

  • Melbourne City Mission / Front Yard Youth Services will provide a mix of crisis response, short term interventions through to longer term case management for young people experiencing first episode psychosis who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Services Co-operative will primarily focus on Aboriginal people in our region, enabling a family focused response to young people experiencing first episode psychosis through assertive outreach.
  • Victorian Counselling and Psychological Services will deliver a mix of group and one to one sessions for primarily young people 12-14 years old, either face to face or through telehealth. A number of education and awareness programs will also be delivered in the region.

A/Prof Carter said that combined with the alcohol and other drug partnerships also announced today, these new services represent a shift towards a more person-centred model of primary care in north and west Melbourne.

“Providing services that are flexible, accessible and centred around the needs of each individual, means more people will be able to get the care they need, when and where they need it.”