Perth community based treatment service for young people with mental ill-health proves successful: s

Perth community based treatment service for young people with mental ill-health proves successful: study

19 April 2021

A client-centred and recovery-focused approach to the mental well-being of young people delivered by a Perth-based community mental health service has proven to be a successful and effective model of care, a recent Orygen study has found.

With input from Professor Patrick McGorry, executive director of Orygen, researchers examined the impact of the Youth Community Assessment and Treatment Team (YCATT) on emergency department visits, psychiatric patient admissions, and care given to young people transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.

Their findings were recently published in the journal Psychiatric Services.

Professor McGorry said YCATT was established to provide intensive and multidisciplinary service and treatments to vulnerable young people in Western Australia.

“It catered to young people at higher risk of developing mental health issues or experiencing emerging psychosis, mood issues, anxiety or distress and behavioural issues,” Professor McGorry said.

The researchers conducted a retrospective evaluation of YCATT over the period 2016-2017 and collected data from 308 referrals, including demographic, clinical and service use information.

“Our data showed that referral to YCATT as a possible alternative to psychiatric hospitalisations was successful in 90 per cent of cases; YCATT reduced inpatient psychiatric admissions, facilitated outpatient treatment, and enabled continuity of care,” Professor McGorry said.

“All of the young people - the majority were aged 16-24 years - had a history of trauma and presented with acute and complex mental ill-health.” 

Professor McGorry said adolescents and young adults often struggled to navigate the mental health system to access care.

“This forms a barrier to young people accessing care at a critical time of their development,” he said.

“The individual approach of the YCATT model addresses this issue by assisting young people to find care during difficult periods in their lives.

“More and more young people are presenting to services with complex mental health issues,” Professor McGorry said.

“The results of this study have shown the value of models of care that are multidisciplinary, client-focussed and community-based and service the complex mental health needs of young people transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.

 “We now need to extend this approach to cover the full age of young people from 12 - 25 years and build a youth mental health model in Western Australia,” Professor McGorry said.