Sector News — 24 August 2015

TTHERE is no simple answer to the growing number of children coming to Orange hospital from across the state for crisis intervention for a mental health issue, according to health professionals.

“The reasons are complex, but one thing we are sure of is that early intervention is crucial,” Western NSW Local Health District child and adolescent mental health unit nurse unit manager Victoria Lovecchio said.

“While we don’t have the definitive answers as to why there is an increase, what we do know is that early intervention is the key to better outcomes,” she said.

Ms Lovecchio said early intervention had the potential to be life changing for children and families as they managed issues into adulthood.

Ms Lovecchio said having the child and adolescent mental health unit within the Orange hospital adjacent to the paediatric unit, and not at Bloomfield, was an indication of the approach now taken by health professions in treating children with a mental illness – either a one-off short-term episode or ongoing issues.

“It is no different to seeking treatment for a broken arm or any other childhood illness,” she said.

She said while there was no designated bed in the hospital for a child or adolescent with an eating disorder, often it was part of a complex mental health issue.

“This could involve children or young people who have anxiety and depression as well as an eating disorder,” she said.

Ms Lovecchio said Orange was in an ideal situation to help children who needed their family nearby with Ronald McDonald House accommodating parents.

“It’s just so much better being close by rather than living in a motel situation,” she said.

“It can be very hard for parents who have a child with a mental illness regardless of whether you live in the city or the country.

“It can be very hard for parents who have a child with a mental illness regardless of whether you live in the city or the country.

“Our treatment program is always about working with the whole family.”

Families from 86 per cent of the state, or four health districts, are referred to the unit at Orange and demand for a bed is high.

“If we are not able to find a bed straight away our child and adolescent mental health team supports the young person and their family in the community until a bed becomes available,” Ms Lovecchio said.

This article first appeared on ‘Central West Daily’ on 22 August 2015.

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