Headspace struggles with growing demand
By CALLA WAHLQUIST | The Examiner | Oct. 5, 2013, midnight
LAUNCESTON teenagers are being forced to wait up to four weeks for a mental health assessment as Headspace struggles to cope with unprecedented demand.
Cornerstone Youth Services chief executive Cate Sinclair, who runs the Launceston youth mental health service, said the clinic was one of Headspace's busiest Australia-wide and it had already seen 2000 people this year.
The clinic is open to people aged 12 to 25, but most who walk through the Brisbane Street doors are aged between 15 and 19.
Ms Sinclair said they were still able to provide an initial assessment to walk-in patients, but the full assessment, with recommendations for ongoing treatment, now comes with a two- to four-week wait.
"That's sort of where that bottleneck is, because there are so many young people coming in needing some work," she said.
"It's a problem."
Serious cases are prioritised and referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and acute cases are referred to the Launceston General Hospital.
Department of Health and Human Services figures showed the number of Tasmanians accessing community mental health services increased 16.3 per cent in the 2012-2013 financial year, but the number of people admitted to acute mental health care facilities had fallen.
Ms Sinclair said depression and anxiety were the most common problems, with some young people citing bullying, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and family violence as concerns.
She said greater awareness and willingness to seek help, not greater incidents of mental health problems, had increased demand for the service.
Mental Health Council of Tasmania chief executive Darren Carr said similar bottlenecks were occurring at services across the state as resources for community mental health services failed to keep pace with demand.
•If you need help: Lifeline 131114, Kids Helpline 1800551800.
Courtesy of The Examiner