Youth mental health services

Young people with mental health issues have available three types of mental health services in Victoria.

The government funds Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and Adult mental health services (AMHS) to provide specialist clinical mental health treatment and care to children and young people with the most serious mental health problems and disorders (0 to 18 years and 16 years and over respectively).

Both CAMHS and Adult AMHS are required to work together with other agencies to provide coordinated treatment and care to children and young people aged 16 years and older requiring ongoing specialist mental health care. Clinical services also work closely with Psychiatric disability residential rehabilitation services (PDRRS) to promote recovery and diminish the impact of illness on the lives of those experiencing severe problems and disorders.

Services to youth (12 to 25 years) may be configured differently across mental health services but typically include:

Community child and adolescent and adult mental health services

These provide a range of services starting with initial intake to provide advice, information and screening, moving through to assessment and treatment. Services include crisis assessment, case management, multi-modal treatments, individual, family and group therapy and parent or carer support. CAMHS services extensively collaborate with and provide consultation to schools, general practitioners, paediatricians, youth and family services, child protection and other health/welfare agencies. Adult area mental health services collaborate with generalist health, education, housing, vocational and other community support services targeting the older adolescent and young adult.

Intensive outreach services

Intensive mobile youth outreach services (IMYOS) in CAMHS and Mobile support and treatment teams (MST) in Adult AMHS provide intensive outreach mental health case management and support to young people who display substantial and prolonged psychological disturbance, have complex needs which may include challenging, at risk and suicidal behaviour. These services work with young people who have been difficult to engage using less intensive treatment approaches, typically experiencing a serious mental illness.

Acute inpatient services

These services provide short-term assessment and/or inpatient treatment for young people who have a severe emotional disturbance that cannot be assessed satisfactorily or treated safely and effectively within the community. Adolescent inpatient units for those 12-18 years and Adult inpatient units are usually located with general hospitals. Links with metropolitan inpatient services are in place for the admission of consumers from rural services.

Psychiatric disability, rehabilitation and support services (PDRSS)

These services include a range of residential, home-based outreach and support programs for people experiencing a serious mental illness. PDRSS provide specific programs targeting youth that are funded at $8.5 million per annum. These services have been strengthened to specifically support young people over 16 years of age who also have problematic drug and alcohol use.

Youth early psychosis (YEP) services

These services are being established as specialist sub-programs within Adult mental health services to specifically address the needs of young people (aged 16 to 25) who are at risk of, or experiencing, first-episode psychosis. The service response includes those with co-occurring drug and alcohol problems.

While targeted at those with the most complex and severe problems, public mental health services also support others such as primary care services, education, housing and support, and youth services in working with young people experiencing less serious problems. The 2006 CAMHS in Communities strategy document articulates how service providers can work together within a three-tier model to provide mental health care for Victoria's children and young people.