headspace responds to misleading journal article

To be attributed to Jason Trethowan, CEO at headspace:

An article published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, questioning the effectiveness of services provided by headspace to young people across Australia shows evidence of considerable bias, is deliberately misleading, misrepresents headspace and makes irrelevant and inappropriate claims.

Over the past 16 years, headspace has provided more than four million services and supported over 700,000 young people at our centres right across the country. headspace is firmly established as a critical component of the mental health care system and we are proud of what we offer, not just to young people but also their families and the communities in which we operate.

A newly published study looked at the outcomes of young people accessing support at headspace for mental health problems. The results were based on the experiences of more than 50,000 young people accessing the service between April 2019 and March 2020, making it the largest study of its kind on headspace to date.

The study found just under 71% young people who sought help at headspace centres improved in at least one of the three outcomes. These included psychological distress (K10), social and occupational functioning (SOFAS) and self-reported quality of life (MyLifeTracker) – all key measures in assessing a young person’s wellbeing.

Just under half of young people improved in self-reported quality of life, over one-third had significant improvements in psychological distress, and a similar proportion improved in psychosocial functioning.

We know young people’s experience of mental health is unique, their help-seeking is fragile and improved outcomes, such as these, have a lifetime benefit.

The impacts of the past two years including COVID-19, natural disasters and the rising cost of living have disproportionately impacted young people and young people are coming to headspace for help in greater numbers than ever before. Demand on our services is significant.

It is crucial young people have a service like headspace that they trust, that is designed by them and is for them so they can get through tough times and back on track. Young people come to headspace because it minimises uncertainty for them about where they can go for help – it is a national platform and a brand they recognise and have confidence in.

Reaching out for help takes courage and we need to encourage this behaviour but, capacity must be strengthened within our services to ensure all young people can access help when they need it.

We strongly encourage any young person going through a tough time to reach out for support. They might choose to speak to a trusted friend or relative, get in touch with their local GP, visit their nearest headspace centre, or connect with phone and online support at eheadspace or by phoning 1800 650 890.