Objectives: To examine changes in psychological distress and psychosocial functioning in young people presenting to headspace centres across Australia for mental health problems.
Design: Analysis of routine data collected from headspace clients who had commenced an episode of care between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, and at 90-day follow-up.
Participants: A total of 24 034 people aged 12–25 years who had first presented to one of the 55 fully established headspace centres for mental health problems during the data collection period.
Main outcome measures: Main reason for presentation, types of therapeutic services provided, Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10) scores, and Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale (SOFAS) scores.
Results: Most headspace mental health clients presented with symptoms of depression and anxiety and were likely to receive cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Younger males were more likely than other age- and sex-defined groups to present for anger and behavioural problems, while younger females were more likely to present for deliberate self-harm. From presentation to last assessment, over one-third of clients had significant improvements in psychological distress (K10) and a similar proportion in psychosocial functioning (SOFAS). Sixty per cent of clients showed significant improvement on one or both measures.
Conclusions: Data regarding outcomes for young people using mental health care services similar to headspace centres are scarce, but the current results compare favourably with those reported overseas, and show positive outcomes for young people using headspace centres.
- 1. McGorry PD, Goldstone SD, Parker AG, et al. Cultures for mental health care of young people: an Australian blueprint for reform. Lancet Psychiatry 2014; 1: 559-568.
- 2. McGorry PD, Tanti C, Stokes R, et al. headspace: Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation — where young minds come first. Med J Aust 2007; 187: S68-S70. <MJA full text>
- 3. Rickwood DJ, Anile G, Telford N, et al. Service Innovation Project component 1: best practice framework. Melbourne: headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, 2014.
- 4. Muir K, Powell A, Patulny R, et al. Independent evaluation of headspace: the National Youth Mental health Foundation. Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, 2009. (SPRC Report 19/09.) http://www.headspace.org.au/core/Handlers/MediaHandler.ashx?mediaId=3018 (accessed May 2015).
- 5. Rickwood D, Telford N, Parker A, et al. headspace ― Australia's innovation in youth mental health: Who's coming and why do they present? Med J Aust 2014; 200: 108-111. <MJA full text>
- 6. Rickwood DJ, Telford NR, Mazzer K, et al. The services provided to young people by headspace centres in Australia. Med J Aust 2015; 202: 533-536.
- 7. Kessler RC, Andrews G, Colpe LJ, et al. Short screening scales to monitor population prevalences and trends in non-specific psychological distress. Psychol Med 2002; 32: 959-976.
- 8. Goldman HH, Skodol AE, Lave TR. Revising Axis V for DSM-IV: a review of measures of social functioning. Am J Psychiatry 1992; 149: 1148-1156.
- 9. Wolpert M, Görzig A, Deighton J, et al. Comparison of indices of clinically meaningful change in child and adolescent mental health services: difference scores, reliable change, crossing clinical thresholds and “added value” — an exploration using parent rated scores on the SDQ. Child Adolesc Ment Health 2015; 20: 94-101.
- 10. COAG Standing Council of Health. Council of Australian Governments National Action Plan for Mental Health 2006–2011. Final progress report covering implementation to 2010–11. Canberra: Australian Government, 2013. https://www.coag.gov.au/sites/default/files/COAG%20Annual%20Progress%20Report%202010-11_Final%20%28D13-1714840%29.pdf (accessed May 2015).
- 11. Jacobson NS, Truax P. Clinical significance: a statistical approach to defining meaningful change in psychotherapy research. J Consult Clin Psychol 1991; 59: 12-19.
- 12. Slade T, Grove R, Burgess P. Kessler Psychological Distress Scale: normative data from the 2007 Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2011; 45: 308-316.
- 13. Falkenström F. Does psychotherapy for young adults in routine practice show similar results as therapy in randomized clinical trials? Psychother Res 2010; 20: 181-192.
- 14. Cross SPM, Hermens DF, Hickie IB. Treatment patterns and short-term outcomes in an early intervention youth mental health service. Early Interv Psychiatry 2014; Epub 2014 Sep 27. doi:10.1111/eip.12191.
- 15. National Mental Health Information Development Expert Advisory Panel. Mental health national outcomes and casemix collection: NOCC strategic directions 2014–2024. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, 2013. http://amhocn.org/static/files/assets/7dc3e26b/NOCC_Strategic_Directions_2014-2024.pdf (accessed May 2015).
- 16. Shrank WH, Patrick AR, Brookhart MA. Healthy user and related biases in observational studies or preventive interventions: a primer for physicians. J Gen Intern Med 2011; 26: 546-550.
- 17. Rickwood DJ, van Dyke N, Telford N. Innovation in youth mental health services in Australia: common characteristics across the first headspace centres. Early Interv Psychiatry 2015; 9: 29-37.
- 18. Hickie IB, Scott SE, Hermens DF, et al. Applying clinical staging to young people who present for mental health care. Early Interv Psychiatry 2013; 7: 31-43.
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.