The following principles guide the range of programs and services at Orygen Youth Health (OYH).
Focus on Youth
Adolescence and early adulthood are important periods of physical, social, educational and vocational development, and the failure to recognise and treat mental disorders can have lasting negative effects in all these areas.
Early intervention involves providing information, assessment and treatment at the earliest possible point when someone is experiencing the onset of a mental disorder. This can happen in the 'at-risk' stage as well as once a mental disorder has developed, however, it is important that the clinical interventions selected are appropriate to the stage of illness (see Clinical Staging for more detail). Early intervention aims to reduce the length and decrease the severity of a first episode of mental illness, so that any complications that may arise from untreated mental health problems are minimised. Early intervention can be provided through secondary consultation to GPs and other mental health services as well as through education of youth-specific services to aid them in the identification of young people with emerging mental disorders.
Stated simply, clinical staging is a more specific form of diagnosis. It is an approach that is already widely used in general medicine, and has the potential to greatly improve the usefulness of mental health diagnosis, especially in young people with an emerging disorder. The clinical staging approach guides how and when interventions are selected and used. Interventions are evaluated in terms of their ability to prevent or delay progression from the earlier to the later stages of a disorder. The interventions offered are carefully selected by the young person and their family, with the help of the young person's clinicians. This approach ensures that since interventions are offered earlier, they remain safe, acceptable and affordable.
Evidenced Based Practice
Young people with a mental disorder are entitled to quality treatment, support and care designed to best suit their individual needs. Interventions for young people with a mental disorder should be based upon sound evidence based practice. OYH promotes the ongoing research of interventions and treatment approaches in order to continually improve evidence based practice with young people in the area of mental illness issues.
Youth Friendly Service Provision
Young people are more likely to use a service that is ‘youth friendly’. Youth friendly services provide a readily accessible stigma-free stream of care to young people that meets their specific developmental needs in an environment that is both psychologically and physically appealing to them. Services at OYH are provided in a manner that engages young people and their significant others in recovery, and is respectful of their views and opinions. Barriers to young people accessing care such as confidentiality concerns, transport issues and financial constraints are actively identified and addressed.
Youth participation programs can be extremely valuable for young people who are experiencing a mental illness. In addition to directly supporting young people, they can also be important in the development and improvement of clinical services, and can play a unique role in community education.
Through youth participation activities, OYH acknowledges that young people have specific expertise based on their lived experience that is invaluable to service development. Youth participation activities also acknowledge the altruism and empowerment which can be a by-product of young people advocating on behalf of their peers, and having an opportunity to ‘give back’ to the service.
Generally, youth participation at OYH aims to:
- Increase the consumer-centredness of the service; and
- Support consumers to feel empowered to contribute to organisational change.
Orygen Youth Health has two youth participation initiatives; the Peer Support Team and the Platform Team.
Read more about the Youth Participation Program
In most cases, family members can contribute greatly to the care and recovery of a young person with a mental illness. It is important therefore that they are well informed about the problem and the treatment and are supported during a period that can be distressing and confusing. Family programs are designed for parents, partners, children, siblings, extended family, close friends and anyone who carries out a caregiving function for a person with a mental health problem.
The Clinical Program offers individual sessions with a case manager, regular information sessions to help families and friends understand mental illness, and specialist work for more difficult problems faced by families.
Family Peer Support
Orygen Youth Health also offers a family peer support service which is available to family members/carers of young people accessing treatment at the service. The family peer support workers are parents who have had children come through the clinical service. Drawing from their own personal experience, they offer practical support and information to new families at OYH.
Read more about the Family Peer Support Program
It is crucial that young people are supported to achieve functional recovery. Young people should be supported to identify their own goals of recovery. These goals may be related to the symptoms that they are experiencing, and may also be to do with the kind of life that they want for themselves.
An important service focus is that of supporting young people to achieve goals they may have related to study, work and training; friendships and relationships; family life; accommodation and living independently.
Working in partnership with other organisations can also be very valuable in supporting young people to work towards their goals.
Mental Health Promotion
Mental health promotion actions and strategies aim to increase the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. Mental health promotion might involve activities that increase ‘protective factors’ against mental illness—such as supporting increased social connectedness, problem-solving skills or opportunities to make use of someone’s strengths. Mental health promotion might also involve activities that reduce ‘risk factors’ for mental illness—such as working to reduce discrimination, violence, bullying and substance abuse.