headspace research reveals roadmap to increased help seeking for young people’s mental health

A report recently released by national youth mental health foundation headspace shows that stigma remains a significant barrier amongst vulnerable groups of young people in seeking help for mental health issues. 

“We have come a long way in just ten years, but there’s a lot more we can do to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health, and continue to improve mental health services, particularly for vulnerable groups of young people,“ said headspace CEO Chris Tanti. 

Speaking on the key findings from the recently published “Component 2 – Social Inclusion Model Development Study” headspace chief scientific advisor, Debra Rickwood said: “The Service Innovation Project (SIP) aimed to trial innovative approaches to ensure that headspace centres are informed by the best current evidence and resources that support improving services to young people. 

“The results from this second part of the three staged SIP initiative examined the facilitators and barriers for young people accessing and engaging with headspace’s services from specific population groups. 

“These are groups of young people that are less likely to access mental health services, including: males; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ); Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds; those who have co-morbid mental health and alcohol and other drug issues; or are homeless. 

“Whilst issues weren’t uniform across all groups, some common barriers included: stigma, lack of familiarity with therapy or talking about problems, fear of the unknown, and concerns about confidentiality,” said Prof Rickwood.  

“The research was also instructive around particular needs for some of these groups. 

“For homeless young people, barriers were quite different due to the immediacy of their everyday needs. 

“CALD young people were particularly concerned about relationships to families and communities, whilst flexible and culturally appropriate services were a key factor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people,” added Prof Rickwood. 

“What we are seeing on the ground in our 87 headspace centres across the country is certainly supported by the evidence in this research,” said Mr Tanti. 

 “This report is significant as it enables the further development of approaches that can ensure that headspace centres continue to build on our efforts such as the Yarn Safe initiative to effectively engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

“A huge part of the success of headspace has been our ability to attract young people from vulnerable, at-risk and disadvantaged groups including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTIQ and rural and regional young people, as well as young people from the broader population,” added Mr Tanti.


SIP Research Reports

Component 1 (released in early 2014) and Component 2 aimed to develop the evidence base to inform centre practice and identify priority areas for headspace centres to focus on to improve service delivery to young people. 

Component 3 involved headspace centres testing innovative and targeted approaches for improving engagement and outcomes for disadvantaged and excluded young people, to guide the development of resources and tools that could be rolled out nationally to enhance service provision.

Download a copy of the Service Innovation Project Component 1 (Best Practice Framework) and Service Innovation Project Component 2 (Social Inclusion Model Development Study) Reports. 

headspace media contact: Kerry Grenfell           M: 0413 025 385            E: KGrenfell@headspace.org.au