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National Youth Mental Health Symposium

Gippsland Primary Health Network (PHN) was pleased to send a representative to a two-day symposium recently held in Melbourne. The theme was ‘Rising to the Challenge – providing services to young people with complex mental health needs’ with over 250 in attendance from around Australia to discuss how to best design and deliver services for young people experiencing severe or complex mental health issues.

Bernie Heaton-Harris, the Co-ordinator of Regional Services for Bass Coast and South Gippsland attended on behalf of Gippsland PHN. “It was particularly valuable in my role overseeing the Doctors in Secondary Schools Program in Gippsland. Also, as I support the recently opened headspace centre in Wonthaggi and outpost sites.” Said Ms Heaton-Harris.

Ms Heaton-Harris continued. “One of the guest speakers was a young person with ‘lived experience’ who enlightened the audience of the challenges navigating the mental health system, particularly from a multicultural background.”

A key message throughout the symposium was the importance of including young people in the design, implementation and evaluation of youth services was highlighted captured in the statement ‘If it’s about us, don’t do it without us’.

Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health hosted the symposium and is the world’s leading research and knowledge translation organisation focusing on mental ill-health in young people. This was the first time the Primary Health Team at Orygen had brought together Primary Health Networks and service providers to discuss youth mental health. The program featured a mix of big picture thinking and local level implementation with presentations from young people, PHNs, service providers, clinicians and researchers.

“There was much relevance to the work we commission in Gippsland for youth.” said Ms Heaton-Organisations providing mental health support for youth are looking more and more towards technology and digital options to provide regional and remote access. Orygen offers online training modules for health professionals working in the Youth Mental health space. A real asset for rural based organisations to have access to this without having to travel, and the introductory modules are free.”

Further training is available and certification in young people’s mental health and technology along with modules on early psychosis are available.

For further information: Orygen – National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health