First steps— finding a better way to respond to psychoses in young people
Orygen Specialist Program started as a small research unit called the Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) attached to a large public mental health program at the Royal Park Hospital in Melbourne.
The program that became EPPIC began in 1988 at the Aubrey Lewis Unit at Royal Park Hospital, with a special focus on assisting young people who were hospitalised while experiencing a first episode of psychosis. It was hoped that by having a ward dedicated to young people, some of the institutional causes of secondary morbidity would be reduced.
The inpatient unit was staffed with nurses, medical, and allied health staff who wanted to work with young people. An atmosphere more suitable to young people was developed. The needs and specific issues that face young people in their first episode of psychosis and the needs of their families and carers were highlighted and addressed for the first time. Building on these initial developments, the EPPIC model officially came into being in June 1992, when the focus of treatment was transferred to the community. At the same time the catchment area was extended to include 800,000 people in the North Western and Western parts of Melbourne.
The Aubrey-Lewis Unit - Royal Park Hospital. Home of the original EPPIC program
This move to the community, with the opening of an Outpatient Clinic in Poplar Road, Parkville, included the establishment of a number of community-focused service components, such as the Early Psychosis Assessment and Home based treatment team, clinical case managers, an comprehensive group program, specialist family work, and a robust program of community awareness. This development ensured all of these important interventions were offered in an integrated and seamless manner through one organisation.
The development of these targeted components lead to the provision of all services within the one organisation including: 24 hour crisis care, community education, and research. By 1995 the comprehensive program for young people experiencing their first episode of psychosis was enhanced by the formation of the PACE clinic for people who were identified as likely to be 'at-risk' of developing a psychotic illness, or who were experiencing low grade psychotic symptoms.
Alongside of EPPIC sat the Early Psychosis Research Centre, which was initially supported through a Vic Health Grant.
By 1995 the comprehensive program for young people experiencing their first episode of psychosis was enhanced by the formation of the PACE clinic for people who were identified as likely to be 'at-risk' of developing a psychotic illness, or who were experiencing low grade psychotic symptoms.
To help contribute to and to learn from international developments in early psychosis, EPPIC hosted the first International Conference on Early Psychosis in Melbourne in 1996, and drew together a group of international experts to form the International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) in 1997.
A broader focus— innovating in major mental illnesses in young people
The next phase of our development was to extend the youth-focused approach of the EPPIC model to providing care to other young people with major mental illnesses (for example major depression). The name of this new broader service was the Mental Health Service for Kids and Youth (MH-SKY). At this time an existing program working with young people 15–18 years of age with non-psychotic illnesses, called the Older Adolescent Service, was renamed Youthscope and integrated into the clinical governance structure of MH-SKY.
Significant philanthropic investment from the Colonial Foundation resulted in the formation of the Orygen Research Centre (a collaboration between the Colonial Foundation, The University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health) in 2001. Orygen Youth Health became a larger and more comprehensive clinical structure that addressed the needs of young people who present with a range of emerging mental health and substance use problems through its sub-programs EPPIC, PACE, Youthscope and HYPE (for personality disorders).