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14th May 2021 Latest News Mental Health

Improving care for young adults battling mental health


A/Prof Schubert is working to improve care for young adults with depression

Mental health challenges in young people are a serious and growing concern, one which psychiatrist Associate Professor Oliver Schubert is determined to address.

A/Prof Schubert, who works within the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network (NALHN) and is also affiliated with the University of Adelaide and Sonder, was recently awarded a Translational Grant from The Hospital Research Foundation Group to improve the care received by 18 to 25-year-olds presenting with youth depression.

Together with their primary care partners at Sonder, who manage the local Youth therapy programmes ‘headspace’ and ‘emerge’, NALHN mental health services are establishing a Youth Single Entry Point (YSEP). This initiative uses a referral triage tool developed by the Australian Government to determine the best service match for each patient, at first contact.

A/Prof Schubert and co-investigators aim to establish research around the Youth Single Entry Point, in the form of the YSEP-D study, which will evaluate whether the YSEP approach is effective for young people with depression.

“It is publicly recognised that mental health services in Australia are fragmented and difficult to navigate, especially for young people and their families,” A/Prof Schubert said.

“By developing a YSEP, it will help patients, referrers and service providers in finding the most suitable service options at the earliest opportunity while avoiding rejection of referrals, duplication of assessments and loss of clinical information between providers.”

A/Prof Schubert will be rolling the YSEP-D study in Adelaide’s north, enrolling people aged 18 to 25 presenting with a high level of depressive symptoms, including clinical depression.

“Our first study assessment will be at ‘baseline’ when the person is first seeking help, the second will be at the time they commence active treatment for depression such as a course of psychotherapy within any of the available mental health programmes, and the third will be three months after the commencement of active treatment,” he said.

“We will then investigate how well the interventions offered within various mental health services treat young people’s depressive symptoms, and whether the triage strategy used by our YSEP supports good outcomes.

“We will then be able to further refine our understanding of what works for whom.”

This study could lead to more effective treatment plans for young Australians battling mental health.

“The Productivity Commission’s 2020 Mental Health report found major barriers to effective care, which is something that desperately needs to change,” A/Prof Schubert said.

“At the end of this study we hope to have a much better idea of what types of service settings and interventions within this region works well, and for which patients.

“We believe the SEP approach will provide a much smoother, faster, friendlier, and ultimately more effective mental health service experience for young people.”