Mental health focus

Young people will on the front line of a new project that aims to reduce mental health hospital admissions in South Australia.

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) is working with young people and their communities to research, develop and test new ideas that will increase the mental wellbeing of South Australians. The aim is to equip South Australian communities to become a compassionate army of ‘first responders’ when someone is on the brink of a mental health crisis, and also in the aftermath of a crisis.

Funded by Fay Fuller Foundation, this work forms part of the latest round of Discovery Funding grants supporting projects that are seeking answers, evidence and new information to improve the health of South Australians.

This project will focus on two communities – one metropolitan and one in regional South Australia. To help inform the project TACSI has enlisted the help of young people who attend Youthinc in Adelaide’s CBD. Youthinc is a not-for-profit organisation that provides an alternative education option for young people aged 17-24. Many young people who attend Youthinc have personal experience of mental illness and/or caring for a family member with mental illness.

Euan Black, Senior Social innovator TACSI says advice from everyday South Australians, especially people with lived experience of mental illness will be an important part of the project.

‘For too long we have overlooked the role of communities themselves as a fundamental part of the solution. Imagine if we leveraged the creativity and lived experience of our communities,’

The aim of the project is for young people to develop the skills and capabilities to provide support in the most appropriate ways for their local areas. This would create a grass-roots early intervention movement to help deal with issues and hopefully prevent the need for hospital visits or more tragic outcomes.

Euan believes there is a critical need for work in this area as, despite significant investment, suicide rates in Australia are at a 10-year high and suicide rates among younger people are troubling. Statistics show that 35% of suicides in 2016 were among young people aged 15-24 and 63% of people aged under 35.

‘South Australia is well placed to become a leader in creating 21st century health policy, as well as solutions that people want and need. We believe that young people are critical in making that happen’.

For more information contact Euan Black