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many hands in a circle

Creating a circle of care for youth mental health services

How digitally-enabled care could impact the mental health trajectories of young people seeking care.
What does a digitally-enabled 'Circle of Care' look like for young people seeking help for emerging psychiatric disorders? A new report outlines the potential for better pathways to care.

A report released by the Brain and Mind Centre's Youth Mental Health Digital Technology researchers and supported by the Bupa Health Foundation, found that using digital technologies to improve youth mental health service pathways led to:

  • a 30 per cent reduction in people disengaging from care,
  • young people receiving the right care up to four times faster,
  • a 32 per cent increase in the number of people who recovered during the course of care

Lead researcher with the Youth Mental Health Digital Technology research stream, Dr Frank Iorfino said: “Trajectories of illness are multidimentional and complex. So health services need to be able to provide dynamic and responsive health care that matches a persons needs - before their needs become more severe.

"There is no waiting list for emergencies, but we don't want this to be a young person's entry point to care. From here, it's a very different and difficult pathway to recovery."

This work provides a blueprint for how youth mental health services can provide more dynamic and responsive care using digital technologies.
Dr Frank Iorfino

One of the report's key components is a standardised care entry pathway that uses rapid assessment and triage to help determine which part of the system a person is best suited. This is the "No Wrong Door" (or waitlist).

“The results illustrate that when used effectively, digital technologies can lead to a quicker and more individualised pathway to care. These are major improvements to service efficiencies which ultimately leads to better outcomes for young people.”

"This highly translational work lifts research beyond academic papers, with potential to affect change in real-world mental health care settings almost immediately through the adoption of digital technologies, which can enable a more accessible, effective and connected mental health system, directly benefiting the young people who need to use it. "

Emily Amos, Managing Director, Bupa Health Insurance said: "In recent times, the health and care industry has demonstrated significant adaptability and flexibility in how mental health support is delivered. The Brain and Mind Centre study provides new insights into how different mental health service systems can shift from modes of episodic treatments to a model of effective continuous care which puts the patient at the centre of the care system."

As one of the country’s largest health and care companies, we know we have an important role to play in improving mental health outcomes for young people in Australia.

“The Bupa Health Foundation has supported work on innovative approaches to prevention, early intervention and treatment strategies for mental health over a number of years including this important research from The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre.”

“Digital channels clearly have the potential to provide a more flexible, highly personalised and effective approach to engaging and supporting more tech-savvy generations with their mental healthcare.” 

Dr Iorfino said “There is so much happening in the digital mental health space which is great to see, and we hope this work can provide some insight into how digital technologies can be used to enhance youth mental health service delivery”.