WA youth share their experiences of the mental health system

A game-changing project now underway at WAAMH will potentially change the way youth mental health services are delivered in the future.

It’s long been acknowledged that fragmented delivery and eligibility for mental health services as a person grows from a small child into adolescence and adulthood often causes confusion and stress as young people and their families and carers try to navigate the various systems. 

This new project, led by WAAMH and funded by the Department of Finance, is investigating the many journeys a young person can have when they seek help for mental health issues, resulting in a comprehensive picture of the “pain points” when seeking help.

An initial round of scoping interviews have recently been completed with young people who have experience of youth mental health services, allowing researchers to look at the overarching themes, with a further, more comprehensive round of interviews set to be completed in March and April.  


Complex journeys

WAAMH Project Officer Rikki Battersby said even though it was early days, several themes were already becoming apparent.

“From the small sample of young people we’ve spoken to, it’s clear that the complexity of their journey is very much dictated by the age they sought help and sometimes their capacity to consistently fund services, although this is not always the case,” she said.

“Many of them have done the rounds of hospitals, community services and private clinicians over many years; others have had a fairly straightforward journey. Often they connected with a service only to have the eligibility criteria changed, or have had to explain their situation multiple times every time the enter a new service or age group,” Ms Battersby said.

Over 40 young Western Australians are assisting with the project, with two Youth Advisors also informing an advisory group comprised of leaders in the WA youth mental health services area.

Youth Services Integration Project Advisory Group

Warwick Smith

Director, Youth Mental Health Services

North Metro Health Services

Ross Wortham

Chief Executive Officer

Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia

Chris Harris

General Manager, Community Engagement

Youth Focus

Ashleigh Lin

NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow

Telethon Kids Institute

Andrew Kazim

Senior Practice Youth Consultant 


Rikki Battersby

Youth Services Integration Project Officer

WA Association for Mental Health

Yasmine Hooper

Youth Advisor

WA Association for Mental Health

Samuel Winner

Youth Advisor

WA Association for Mental Health

Michael Jones

Executive Manager, Programs

WA Association for Mental Health

Colin Penter

Policy Officer

WA Association for Mental Health

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A small snippet from a participant's mental health service journey.