‘It’s going to save lives’: Funding boost for youth mental health

Evelyn Lewin

3/04/2019 3:09:40 PM

headspace CEO Jason Trethowan is excited by new opportunities to engage with general practice.

Jason Trethowan
‘The more we partner with general practice, the better it is for young people’: headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said.

‘What I really hope from this, is that it actually creates further incentives for GPs to be working in headspace centres,’ Jason Trethowan, Chief Executive Officer of youth mental health organisation headspace, told newsGP.
This week’s Federal Budget included a significant funding injection aimed at youth mental health, with headspace being allocated a total of $263.3 million.
Of that funding, $111 million will be utilised by expanding the headspace centre network by 30 locations, while a further $152 million will go towards existing services to ‘keep pace’ with demand.
According to Mr Trethowarn, part of filling that demand requires further engagement with general practice.
‘We know that, like a lot of areas of health, headspace centres have not had sufficient numbers of GPs,’ he said.
‘The funding … will go a long way to helping to create more options in headspace for GPs to have their patients be engaged with, and for headspace to be able to partner further with general practice as well. So that’s a really positive step.
‘We’ll do it in two ways: we’ll look to see if more GPs will work at headspace centres, but also we’ll build an opportunity for us to strengthen our relationships and referral pathways with GPs.
‘That’s a real motivation because general practice is the engine room of the health system and the more we partner with general practice, the better it is for young people.
‘The success of headspace is really dependent on the level of engagement and the level of responsiveness that we have with general practice.’
Mr Trethowarn believes increasing clinician numbers will also ensure more timely access to services.
While he cannot put an exact number on how many extra GPs/clinicians the service will be able to provide, Mr Trethowarn said there is ‘no doubt’ it will make a difference.
With $110 million in funding going towards expanding the headspace centre network by 30 locations, Mr Trethowan said 20 of those locations will be satellite sites, typically in rural and regional areas, which are areas of high need.
Overall, Mr Trethowan said he is delighted by the funding and the opportunities it presents.
‘I just represent personally the experiences of young people and the headspace centres and those who work their guts out in local communities,’ he said. ‘And for us to be able to advocate for them in a way that the Government gets, and has now funded additional resources [for], it’s quite a landmark moment.’
Mr Trethowan is also keen to note the effects of accessing support for young people goes beyond mental health.
‘About a third of young people accessing headspace centres – in some cases 50% of young people between the age of 17 and 25 – are not engaged in work or study, so these new 30 locations should also reach young people whose … mental health is a barrier to stay connected to study or work,’ he said.
‘So if we get on top of that, they’ll lead a more fulfilling life, because it is more than just mental health.
‘It’s going to save lives.’

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Linh Doan   4/04/2019 12:11:25 PM

GPs are not adequately remunerated to “partner” with mental health services properly- general practice is on its knees. If you pour money into headspace this is fine for clients of headspace , but there is a massive black hole in Medicare funding for general practice which has not changed since the days on the’ take two tablets and see you tomorrow’ days. Clearly a revamp in General Practice funding is needed to support listening, counselling, expert assessment and training in primary care. You cannot advocate for youth mental health without advocating for general practice- we want to get the diagnosis right at the first time and the treatment right- but our hands have been tied by Medicare for decades- funding has not increased to keep up with inflation let alone increased with the amount of responsibility and cost that medical practice face.

Dr. F. Mitra   4/04/2019 6:10:53 PM

I agree completely with Lin that inadequate compensation is a factor which puts off GPs in taking on complex, time consuming and emotional toll, to do a proper mental health treatment. Review of the items for complex care in General Practice is badly needed, for success in utilising the new fund.

chris harvey   7/04/2019 9:10:09 PM

I will also support the above statements and having attempted to work at Headspace at its inception and then a few years later the reasons I left were to do with a poor model for GP's - if you want good GP's who have expertise in this area you may be better off putting them on a salary rather than relying on the medicare rebate. That way they can improve communication with others in the team and be appropriately remunerated!