The services provided to young people through the headspace centres across Australia

Debra J Rickwood, Nic R Telford, Kelly R Mazzer, Alexandra G Parker, Chris J Tanti and Patrick D McGorry
Med J Aust 2015; 202 (10): 533-536. || doi: 10.5694/mja14.01695


Objectives: To describe the services provided to young people aged 12–25 years who attend headspace centres across Australia, and how these services are being delivered.

Design: A census of headspace clients commencing an episode of care between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014.

Participants: All young people first attending one of the 55 fully established headspace centres during the data collection period (33 038 young people).

Main outcome measures: Main reason for presentation, wait time, service type, service provider type, funding stream.

Results: Most young people presented for mental health problems and situational problems (such as bullying or relationship problems); most of those who presented for other problems also received mental health care services as needed. Wait time for the first appointment was 2 weeks or less for 80.1% of clients; only 5.3% waited for more than 4 weeks. The main services provided were a mixture of intake and assessment and mental health care, provided mainly by psychologists, intake workers and allied mental health workers. These were generally funded by the headspace grant and the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

Conclusions: headspace centres are providing direct and indirect access to mental health care for young people.

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  • Debra J Rickwood1,2
  • Nic R Telford2
  • Kelly R Mazzer2
  • Alexandra G Parker2
  • Chris J Tanti2
  • Patrick D McGorry3

  • 1 University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT.
  • 2 headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.


headspace The National Youth Mental Health Foundation is funded by the Australian Government.

Competing interests:

All authors are employed by or directly involved with headspace The National Youth Mental Health Foundation.

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  • 3. Rickwood D, Telford N, Parker A, et al. headspace — Australia's innovation in youth mental health: who are the clients and why are they presenting? Med J Aust 2014; 200: 108-111. <MJA full text>
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access_time 06:01, 3 June 2015
Anthony Jorm

This article presents no data on treatment using medication. Can the authors please give data on the number and types of clients treated with medication, the types of medication used, and any information on outcomes.

Competing Interests: I have previously worked and published with two of the authors.

Prof Anthony Jorm
University of Melbourne

access_time 07:31, 4 June 2015
Debra Rickwood

The headspace Minimum Data Set that was used as the source of data for this paper does not record information on medication.

Competing Interests: Co-author of article and directly funded by headspace

Prof Debra Rickwood
University of Canberra

access_time 11:32, 12 June 2015
Anthony Jorm

A public announcement about the findings reported in this article and the companion MJA article has been made on the Orygen website and quotes one of the authors, Patrick McGorry.1 However, some of the claims made appear to go beyond the data in the articles. In particular, the website states that: “These data provide encouraging evidence that headspace is an engaging and accessible entry point to the Australian health care system for young people and their families”. However, the two articles make no mention of data on families. Do the authors have any data on use of headspace services by families?
The website also states that the data show that headspace provides “better access to safe and streamlined care for young people”. However, no data on safety are reported in the articles. Do the authors have any data on adverse events, including suicide and self-harm?
1. Orygen: the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health. New data shows headspace improving outcomes for young people. (accessed 12 June 2015).

Competing Interests: I have previously worked and published with two of the authors.

Prof Anthony Jorm
University of Melbourne

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