Research Sector News — 25 November 2014

An independent review of youth mental health services in South Australia has found more psychologists are needed.

The report on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) made 46 recommendations for improvement.

Recent coronial cases were scathing of the system after investigating the suicides of two teenagers, Michaela Jayne Mundy and Jason William Hugo-Horsman, who had both sought help from CAMHS

The health service was described as fundamentally flawed and too reliant on social workers rather than psychologists and psychiatrists.

The independent review largely stemmed from the adverse coronial findings.

It said there was a need to clarify the role of psychiatrists and boost their numbers.bigstockphoto_Depressed_Teen_Boy_4211429

The Women’s and Children’s Health Network governs CAMHS, provides its inpatient unit and oversees outpatient services.

Network CEO Naomi Dwyer said she was committed to implementing the review recommendations to improve the model of care.

“I think there will definitely be more psychologists working in the system as we roll out our new workforce plan,” she said.

“That’s very clearly a recommendation from the review and something I would support.

“I think there are two key things that emerge from the review – one is a very strong affirmation of some areas of excellence and some things that we’re doing really well.

“The other is when you have a team of nine people examining your service very closely, there are a number of opportunities and these principally relate to strengthening of our clinical and corporate governance and leadership.”

Ms Dwyer said psychologists would play a stronger role.

“There is an opportunity to review our model of care and particularly the workforce needed to deliver that … and so to that extent it identified an opportunity to strengthen the input of psychologists and that’s something we’ll be focused on,” she said.

“Having that blend of the right skills and the right professions is really important in transforming our service.

“We’ve got very many dedicated, skilled professionals working within our child and adolescent mental health services [and] they will be working on the model of care and coming up with the answers of what that best workforce looks like and obviously comparing that with interstate.”

Ms Dwyer said youth suicide rates remained a challenge for the health service.

“It is tragic when any young person commits suicide and that’s why it is so important to our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service to take on board the opportunities for improvements that have been identified, sustain the excellence we already have in our service and move forward,” she said.

Consultation about the review recommendations will continue until Christmas Eve.

“We [will] start the new year with a very assertive plan that’s reflective of that feedback to make sure we’re working hard to deliver what the community expects with the reform,” Ms Dwyer said.

She said the review mentioned a timeline of two years to implement changes but she was confident some would happen much sooner, including nine stemming from the coronial findings.

This article first appeared on ‘ABC’ on 24 November 2014.

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