Youth mental health in primary care setting

Youth mental health in primary care setting

headspace Chatswoodis part of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation that provides holistic, integrated, youth friendly services at no charge to young people aged 12 to 25 year old. It aims to provide easy access to young people and their families seeking help for mental health, drug and alcohol, physical, sexual health and vocational issues. The centre provides services delivered by experienced Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists bulk billing through Medicare, Drug and Alcohol Clinicians and Vocational Support in a professional, safe and friendly setting. GPs can refer to their service by calling in and speaking to an intake clinicians and filling in an external provider form that is downloadable from their website.

Mental health is one of the main health issue faced by young people aged 12 to 25 years old and contributes to about half the burden of disease in this age group. There are many barriers faced by young people and their families in seeking help for mental health concerns, including stigma, cost, transport, negative attitudes of staff towards young people, lack of knowledge about services, trust concerns, previous negative experiences of health services, anxiety and embarrassment. Unfortunately, these barriers can cause less severe disorders to develop to more severe psychiatric disorders if not identified and treated. Research shows that 75 per cent of mental health problems occur before the age of 25.

Karen is a 16 year old girl who saw her GP for back pain and frequent headaches that has been getting worse in the last few weeks. She teared up during the appointment and made vague comments about hearing her parents argue all the time and stress at school.

Like Karen, many young people may initially present with physical symptoms such as stomach, back pains, headaches and nausea that may mask underlying psychological symptoms. General Practitioners are usually the first point of contact for these youths or families expressing concerns about their children and play an important part in the assessment, treatment and their ongoing follow up. In a busy practice, it is often difficult to juggle the different care needs of a patient and it is crucial for a GP to have ready access to good mental health services for young people. While many youths will choose to see their GPs, many will also benefit from accessing specific psychological services for their issues.

For more information on headspace's services, please email info@headspacechatswood.org.au or phone 8021 3668. They are located at 30 Devonshire Street, Chatswood.
Youth mental health in primary care setting