AICAFMHA: promoting mental health for young Australians
Australian Infant, Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Association Ltd
ABN 87 093 479 022
Collated Mental Health News Items for 2008
Displaying items 1 to 5
US Report on Child Mental Health Released
Atlanta, November 20, 2008 A quarter of a century has passed since a groundbreaking, 50-state study shone a piercing light on America's alarming disarray of mental health services for children and urged strong federal leadership on policies to support states? efforts. A follow-up study released today finds that states are still struggling to deliver effective care while a lack of federal leadership remains.
"It's upsetting that 25 years after the first report there still are so many children and families who need help and are not getting it," says Janice L. Cooper, PhD, co-author of the report along with Jane Knitzer, EdD, who authored the first study in 1982. Dr. Cooper directs the child health and mental health focus at the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP), part of the Mailman
School of Public Health at Columbia University, and Dr. Knitzer is NCCP's director.
"The lack of federal leadership has led to inequity between the states, often leading to
disappointing results for children, youth and families. Children in one state might have fared
considerably better across the border in a neighboring state," says Cooper. "Sadly, children bear
the burden of those inequities. We need a nationwide mental health system that focuses on
prevention, early intervention and treatment."
The NCCP report, Unclaimed Children Revisited: The Status of Children's Mental Health Policy
in the United States, was presented at the 24th Annual Rosalynn Carter Symposium on
Mental Health Policy at The Carter Center on Nov. 20-21, 2008 in Atlanta. Researchers collected and analyzed data from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Their report shows that in the quarter century since the first study, there has
been an explosion of new knowledge, new understandings of how children and their problems
develop, and new ways of providing preventive and treatment services. But this body of
knowledge is haphazardly factored into policy decisions regarding children's mental health
"At the time of the first study, we only had a fraction of the information we now have about
effective services for children and youth. Today that is totally different we know what's
effective, but aren't necessarily doing what's effective," says Cooper. "Mental health care
providers don't always implement evidence-based practices, such as following a tested therapy
protocol, then measuring the results to see if actual progress has been made with the child."
The study also reveals poor accountability for both successful outcomes with children as well as
how the dollars are spent, says Dr. Knitzer. "A big problem is that the money we're spending as
a nation is often not supporting effective services."
NCCP found that only half of the states and territories were able or willing to report their annual
children's mental health budgets. Twelve states could not identify any group of children they
Other findings include:
* Nationally, across the age span, mental health services are spotty at best.
* Only 23 states report investing in early childhood mental health and of those, there are limited
* Only 24 states invest in school-based mental health services despite evidence that this is a core
opportunity to both improve children?s mental health and learning.
* Too often money is spent on practices that are not evidence-based, and family supportive, despite
* Reimbursement policies impede states? ability to deliver age-appropriate, effective care.
* Emphasis in care delivery has been on children with severe emotional issues; but little emphasis
has been placed on those children who are at-risk for mental health problems, and who could
benefit from early intervention.
* Only two states reported having an advanced information technology infrastructure to support
children's mental health service delivery.
"We need to join our collective knowledge about what works, our understanding about what
children need at different stages of growth and development, and our fiscal policies so they
support this framework." says Dr. Knitzer. "Despite pockets of excellence, today we have a
financing and delivery system that remains largely unaccountable and lacking in transparency,
coupled with a failure to implement effective practices. We cannot wait another 25 years we
need to move forward now."
This will allow headspace to continue providing support to young people across a range of areas, including their general and mental health, education, employment opportunities, and drugs and alcohol rehabilitation.
The funding will be provided over three years from July 2009 once headspace has repositioned itself as an independent company, better placing it to improve the lives of young people living with mental illness.
I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Ms Wendy McCarthy as the new Chair of headspace.
Ms McCarthy will assist headspace to put in place the new independent company structure. The Government anticipates the transition to this new structure will occur as quickly as possible, so as to ensure certainty for headspace services and staff.
Ms McCarthy has given 40 years of service to the community as a teacher, educator, company director and mentor, including ten years as the Chancellor of the University of Canberra.
Currently she is Vice-Chair of Plan International and a director of Plan Australia; Chair of Circus Oz, McGrath Estate Agents, Sydney Community Foundation, NSW Sustainable Access Priority Taskforce; and a member of the NSW Health Care Advisory Council. She is also patron of the Australian Reproductive Health Alliance.
She succeeds Mr Ryan Stokes who has provided valuable service to headspace as chair of the organisation since its inception in 2006. I greatly appreciate the enormous contribution which Mr Stokes has made in leading headspace through its establishment phase, helping it to establish 30 youth mental health services across Australia.
These services give young people access to general practitioners and allied health professionals with skills and experience in fields such as alcohol and drug, mental health, and youth support services.
headspace also operates a centre of excellence which gathers evidence about mental health best practice. It provides specialist training for health professionals and supports local and national community awareness campaigns.
Congratulations to Wendy. I wish her and all the headspace staff well in continuing to provide important mental health services for young people across Australia.
Media Release from Office of Nicola Roxon 12/12/08
Posted:Dec 14, 2008 Mission Australia Youth Report Released
Each year, Mission Australia conducts a national survey of young Australians which uncovers the issues that concern them, who they admire and where they turn to for advice and support. This year's survey - the seventh - is the biggest yet with 45,500 respondents, between ages 11-24, taking part in every state and territory around the country. Mission Australia's survey is a valuable snapshot into the minds of young Australians and provides a wealth of important information for anyone interested in their wellbeing.
Link related to this news item: www.missionaustralia.com.au/index.php?option=com_docman&task=cat_view&gid=67&Itemid=118 Posted:Dec 5, 2008 Messages for Mental Health
The Canberra Times (9/11/2008): AN INNOVATIVE program is using mobile phones to help improve adolescent mental health. Mobiletype, or Mobile Tracking of Young People's Experiences, asks teens to SMS details of their mood and activities to their doctor as a form of self-monitoring and improving the delivery of mental health services. Chief investigator on the project, Sophie Reid, discussed the results of a recent pilot study at the Australian and New Zealand Adolescent Health Conference in Melbourne on Friday. ''[When] a young person goes in to see their doctor, the doctor has on average eight minutes to spend with their patients and that's not really long enough to get a good idea of a young person's mental health functioning or their drug and alcohol use,'' Dr Reid said. Mobiletype enables doctors to collect information about their patients between visits so as to better address their needs.
The program is designed for 14- to 25-year-olds and can be downloaded on to an ordinary mobile. It starts up four times a day and asks the user up to 30 questions relating to their mood, diet, activities, alcohol and drug use and sleep patterns.
The information is then sent in SMS form to the young person's doctor. Dr Reid said a pilot clinical study comprising 47 young people and their eight doctors showed positive results. ''We found the young people were really candid in their reports. We thought the program accurately measured their moods and experiences. ''Young people were telling us that it gave them greater insight into the way in which they were feeling and showed them they were sometimes over-reacting to things or doing things that weren't helpful, or that they should talk to someone.'' Dr Reid said doctors also found the program useful as it allowed them to more quickly and accurately address the needs of their young patients.
'The project is bring run out of the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne.
Link related to this news item: www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/messages-for-mental-health/1355604.aspx Posted:Dec 5, 2008 Childhood Stress Linked to Emotional Disorders
Children who experience three or more stressful life events are at more risk of developing emotional and behavioural disorders, research has shown. However, having strong social links with networks of family and friends, being a member of a club or group, and feeling safe in the neighbourhood all offer a cushion against emotional damage, the findings from the Office for National Statistics study show. In the third survey on the emotional development and wellbeing of children aged 5-16 in England, Wales, and Scotland, the office investigated factors that protect children from emotional problems for the first time. The report covers a group of 7329 children assessed in 2004 and again in 2007, when 5364 agreed to interviews, a response rate of 73%.
Three Years on: A Survey of The Emotional Development and Wellbeing of Children and Young People was commissioned by the Scottish government and the Department of Health (from BMJ 2008;337:a2267)