For those who have spoken to the Triage/Intake Team and accepted for a mental health assessment, then the first one or two appointments for a young person will be with our Youth Access Team (YAT). These appointments are to try to work out the sort of difficulties that the young person is experiencing, decide if Orygen Specialist Program is the best place to provide help, and plan what happens next.

YAT understands that not everyone with mental health problems has an illness. Other issues, like stress, relationships, and other emotional difficulties, can affect the way people feel. The assessment is a process to work this all out. If the young person is comfortable for family members to be present in these meetings we would encourage this as it can be very helpful.

A comprehensive assessment will be looking for information such as:

  • the main problem that the young person is experiencing, and its affect on everyday activities
  • recent events that might be important, and events in the past
  • previous contact with doctors, psychiatrists and the health care system
  • medical history and current medications
  • whether the person is at risk of self-harm, or of harming others
  • current state of mind
  • what has been done so far about the problem

During these early meetings, staff might be able to give a name – or perhaps several names – to the problems. This ‘diagnosis’ is a useful short-hand way of describing the illness or other problems but making an exact diagnosis can be very difficult and might take some time. Unlike physical illnesses, which can be diagnosed with the help of blood tests and x-rays, mental and emotional disorders can only be recognised by how people are thinking, feeling and behaving. These experiences are more difficult to determine as ‘symptoms’ of illness. The other thing to keep in mind is that the diagnosis may change over time so a young person's mental health may need regular review.

New assessments occur, when possible, at the Rushford Annexe building which is located next to the Inpatient Unit in Footscray. If an interpreter is needed for the young person or their family or carer, Triage will arrange for an interpreter to be present. Please inform staff as early as possible that this is needed, and what language is required.

Following a thorough mental health assessment, options for treatment are then explored and an initial treatment plan is formulated. Young people who are accepted for ongoing treatment at Orygen will be allocated an Outpatient Case Manager, in one of the specialized clinics, depending on the difficulties the young person is experiencing. The Outpatient Case Manager will assist in providing and coordinating their care.

If the young person is not accepted for treatment at Orygen, then alternative treatment options will be discussed. 

Other information is available in our Assessment and Diagnosis (PDF) factsheet