Young people and mental health

Mental ill health starts at a young age and commonly emerges before the age of twenty-five. Young people report high levels of symptoms of mental ill health, and treating mental health issues at early stages of life may lead to improved treatment outcomes and prevention of future mental health problems and associated disabilities. Investment in prevention programs and early intervention models while also providing youth friendly, holistic, and accessible services can help encourage young people to seek help early on.

The stigma attached to mental illness can act as a barrier to young people accessing help. Mental health literacy needs to be addressed to improve help-seeking behavior. Early recognition and timely and appropriate help-seeking will only occur if young people and their family and friends know about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, what services are available and how to access these services and have a positive orientation to seeking help.

The Western Australian Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-2025 (the Plan) is the Mental Health Commission’s key planning tool for the mental health, alcohol and other drugs. The Plan outlines plans and actions for the development of youth mental health services in Western Australia.

In the last decade, Western Australia has seen several new programs and services funded and established in development of the youth mental health stream. The Federal Government also plays an important role in shaping the service system for youth mental health through the Primary Health Networks (PHNs), which are the independent organisations responsible for coordinating primary health care.

WAAMH recognises a continuum of supports - built on principles of human rights, recovery, coproduction, personalisation and choice, social inclusion and cultural connection - are essential to the promotion, protection and restoration of mental wellbeing for young people. WAAMH promotes, advocates, and further develops this network of supports for young Western Australians in partnership with our members who provide mental health services, and ongoing engagement with many stakeholders across the mental health sector.

Youth Services Integration Project: Identifying areas for improvement across youth mental health services

The Youth Services Integration Project was a project initiated by WAAMH and funded by the Department of Finance to understand young people’s pathways through the mental health system and the extent of, or lack of service integration.