Dr Angelo Virgona, Chair of the NSW RANZCP, said, “It is the result of a successful collaboration between the College and the Ministry. The College brought the increasing frequency and severity of Mental Health presentations of young people in our hospitals and community services to the attention of Minister Taylor, who challenged us to come up with a plan of action. A model of care was then developed in close collaboration with the Minister’s office and the Department, with critical inputs from the Mental Health Commission and College of Mental Health Nursing.”

The model, 'Safeguards: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Response,’ will see the deployment of twenty five state-wide acute mental health teams. This is a dramatic rise in the capacity of community mental health services to deal with acutely and severely distressed young people.

The leader of the development team is Professor Valsa Eapen, who is the UNSW Chair in Child and Adolescent psychiatry and the Chair of the Bi-national Committee of the Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. “The twenty five multidisciplinary teams, to be rolled out over the next 3-4 years, will comprise psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses and allied health professionals, providing comprehensive assessments to acutely distressed young people, short-term intensive care and then handover to the most appropriate services. And there will be close partnerships with schools, headspace, youth mental health services, NGOs, GPs, and private sector psychological and psychiatric services, to ensure no one falls through the cracks,” said Professor Eapen.

The teams will operate seven days a week with extended hours. Assessments will take place where most needed: in the community centres, hospitals and homes. The capacity of existing community mental health teams for longer-term care will be enhanced. The model will vary depending on the specific needs of the region.

This will result in a major boost to the mental health workforce, across the disciplines, with major flow on effects over decades. It will ensure that we are getting in as early as possible when young people first present with mental health issues, currently a critical brick in the wall of prevention.

The College is proud to be part of this historic development, and will work closely and collaboratively with our partners to ensure its success.