Before you refer

There are lots of things to think about when trying to decide who is the best person/organisation to help a young person experiencing mental health concerns.  Importantly, linking a young person into a support service is about encouraging them to seek help, something that many young people are relucatant to do.

An important first step in seeking help for a young person is to talk with them about your concerns. This may include highlighting the changes you have noticed in their mood or behaviour.  You can then talk with them about the options for help that are available to them. While the young person may not want to get help, they may be willing to have an initial meeting with a health professional, such as a doctor or school psychologist, to hear about the mental health services that are available. An 'information meeting' such as this might also be a good first step to help the young person see that seeking help does not need to be scary or confronting.

The organisations that may be able to offer counselling/mental health services include:

  • community health centre
  • local council/youth counselling service
  • private psychologist or psychiatrist
  • school/tafe/university psychologist or social worker or well-being counsellor
  • public mental health service such as Orygen Youth Health (OYH).

The services offered by these organisations vary according to the presenting problem and the severity of the illness. 

In general, a referral to OYH should be considered when the issues of concern have:

  • been persistent
  • affected many aspects of the young person's life
  • affected the young person's safety
  • the young person has not responded to treatment already provided by another agency.