World-first youth mental health care service for north-west Melbourne

World-first youth mental health care service for north-west Melbourne

23 April 2024

In a significant step towards realising the reforms recommended by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, young Victorians will have access to a new dedicated public youth mental health service operated in partnership with Orygen. 

Orygen welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement of the Parkville Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, which will be devoted to the mental health care of young people aged 12–25 in the north-west and west of metropolitan Melbourne. A public facing name for the new service is currently under consideration.

This world-first service will deliver care for young people currently engaged with youth mental health services at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, which will transition to this new entity.

The service will offer specialist mental health care and community services to young people with severe or complex mental ill-health and evolve to be fully integrated with the north-west’s five headspace centres, which are operated by Orygen (Werribee, Melton, Sunshine, Craigieburn and Glenroy). 

The announcement comes amidst a youth mental health crisis, which has seen the level of mental ill-health in young Australians rise from 26 per cent in 2007 to 39 per cent in 2021. In 2023, there was an 85.7 per cent annual increase in suicide amongst people aged under 18 in Victoria. 

To meet the increased need for youth mental health care, the service will draw on Orygen’s unique capabilities across research, service development and workforce development and policy, along with its experience in delivering and supporting clinical services, notably in enhanced primary care. Orygen’s commitment to engaging with young people and their families, carers, and supporters will also ensure young people remain at the centre of the partnership's work. 

Orygen Executive Director, Professor Patrick McGorry, said the Parkville Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing Service was a positive move towards implementing the reforms required to turn the crisis around. 

“This is a groundbreaking step in continuing to build the vital field of youth mental health, which has been pioneered by Orygen in Melbourne and scaled up nationally and globally over the past 30 years with Victoria and Australia as the epicentre,” Professor McGorry said. 

“The young people of north-west Melbourne and their families will benefit enormously from this development, which has been hard won, and which I expect will inspire and guide wider youth mental health reform for the benefit of all Victorians. 

“I am personally very grateful to the Victorian Government and all the dedicated people, including those with lived experience, who have made this change possible.” 

Orygen’s Head of Lived Experience, Rafi Armanto, said the new service is an important step in recognising the unique challenges that young people face when they experience mental ill-health and service use. 

“An integrated service will ensure more seamless and accessible pathways for young people at different stages of their mental health journey, which was a key recommendation from the Royal Commission, and a necessity expressed by young people and their families,” Armanto said.  

“A dedicated model also means the mental health needs and preferences of young people are prioritised across the service, and will offer wraparound support for families. 

“Orygen’s approach to lived experience means that the involvement of young people with lived experience and their families, carers, and supporters is central, from access to peer workers within our services and perspectives of people with lived experience championed at all levels of the organisation.”