Early intervention: Building a shared understanding

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Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health is a world-leading research and knowledge translation organisation focusing on mental ill-health in young people. As the National Centre, Orygen has been asked by the Australian Government to provide advice and policy analysis to support Australia’s response to mental ill-health in young people. Drawing from the successful Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre (EPPIC) model of early intervention for psychosis at peak onset (12-24 years), Orygen is developing a range of evidence based responses to improve youth mental health services, and facilitate optimal health and wellbeing outcomes for young people. In the Australian policy environment there is an interest in early intervention for public health responses (including in youth mental health). In this context, the definition and interpretation of ‘early intervention’ has presented challenges. Exacerbated by funding and resource considerations, there can be a disparity of opinions around what constitutes ‘early intervention’ depending on your perspective, experience and, in some cases, the diagnosis. This is true of many stakeholders in youth mental health including government policy makers, clinicians, researchers and young people with or without a lived experience of mental ill-health. This year Orygen has provided the Australian Government with four policy papers in areas of youth mental health: eating disorders, self-harm, comorbid substance use and physical/sexual health. A key challenge in developing these papers has been in maintaining the focus on early intervention, defined through the EPPIC clinical staging model: as early in onset or at the point of identified risk of mental ill-health for a young person. As we discovered, the blurring with prevention on one side and treatment on the other became necessary and inevitable. To clarify these boundaries, the continued development of evidence through quality research and evaluation of effective clinical, program and policy responses is needed. Through this evidence base, a national approach to early intervention for youth mental health in Australia can be built.

Poster First Author: 
Vivienne Browne
Conference Presented At: 
IAYMH 2015
Poster Date: 
October, 2015
Subject Area Tag: