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Med J Aust ; 216(2): 78-79, 2022 02 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2155692
Psychiatr Serv ; : appips20220345, 2022 Nov 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2138394


OBJECTIVE: The authors aimed to evaluate changes in use of government-subsidized primary mental health services, through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), by young people during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and whether changes were associated with age, sex, socioeconomic status, and residence in particular geographical areas. METHODS: Interrupted time-series analyses were conducted by using quarterly mental health MBS service data (all young people ages 12-25 years, 2015-2020) for individual Statistical Area Level 3 areas across Australia. The data captured >22.4 million service records. Meta-analysis and meta-regression models estimated the pandemic interruption effect at the national level and delineated factors influencing these estimates. RESULTS: Compared with expected prepandemic trends, a 6.2% (95% CI=5.3%-7.2%) increase was noted for all young people in use of MBS mental health services in 2020. Substantial differences were found between age and sex subgroups, with a higher increase among females and young people ages 18-25. A decreasing trend was observed for males ages 18-25 (3.5% reduction, 95% CI=2.5%-4.5%). The interruption effect was strongly associated with socioeconomic status. Service uptake increased in areas of high socioeconomic status, with smaller or limited uptake in areas of low socioeconomic status. CONCLUSIONS: During 2020, young people's use of primary mental health services increased overall. However, increases were inequitably distributed and relatively low, compared with increases in population-level mental health burden. Policy makers should address barriers to primary care access for young people, particularly for young males and those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.

World Psychiatry ; 21(1): 61-76, 2022 Feb.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1616107


Mental ill-health represents the main threat to the health, survival and future potential of young people around the world. There are indications that this is a rising tide of vulnerability and need for care, a trend that has been augmented by the COVID-19 pandemic. It represents a global public health crisis, which not only demands a deep and sophisticated understanding of possible targets for prevention, but also urgent reform and investment in the provision of developmentally appropriate clinical care. Despite having the greatest level of need, and potential to benefit, adolescents and emerging adults have the worst access to timely and quality mental health care. How is this global crisis to be addressed? Since the start of the century, a range of co-designed youth mental health strategies and innovations have emerged. These range from digital platforms, through to new models of primary care to new services for potentially severe mental illness, which must be locally adapted according to the availability of resources, workforce, cultural factors and health financing patterns. The fulcrum of this progress is the advent of broad-spectrum, integrated primary youth mental health care services. They represent a blueprint and beach-head for an overdue global system reform. While resources will vary across settings, the mental health needs of young people are largely universal, and underpin a set of fundamental principles and design features. These include establishing an accessible, "soft entry" youth primary care platform with digital support, where young people are valued and essential partners in the design, operation, management and evaluation of the service. Global progress achieved to date in implementing integrated youth mental health care has highlighted that these services are being accessed by young people with genuine and substantial mental health needs, that they are benefiting from them, and that both these young people and their families are highly satisfied with the services they receive. However, we are still at base camp and these primary care platforms need to be scaled up across the globe, complemented by prevention, digital platforms and, crucially, more specialized care for complex and persistent conditions, aligned to this transitional age range (from approximately 12 to 25 years). The rising tide of mental ill-health in young people globally demands that this focus be elevated to a top priority in global health.

J Child Psychol Psychiatry ; 62(9): 1067-1069, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-991460


While COVID-19 pandemic has allegedly passed its first peak in most western countries, health systems are progressively adapting to the 'new normality'. In child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), such organizational envisioning is needed to cope with the foreseeable psychological effects of prolonged social isolation induced by nation-wide public health measures such as school closure. CAMHS need to ensure flexible responses to the psychopathological consequences of evolving societal dynamics, as dramatically actualized by the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic. This would imply (a) shifting the focus of intervention from symptom reduction and containment of acute crises in a comparatively small number of severe cases to a broader preventive strategy, guided by a gradient of increasing intensity and specificity of treatment; (b) promoting smooth access pathways into services and encouraging participation of families; (c) adopting a transdiagnostic staging model to capture the developmental fluctuations from subsyndromal to syndromal states and back, with related changes in the intensity of the need of care; and (d) implementing digital tools to encourage help-seeking and compliance by digitally native youth.

Adolescent Psychiatry/trends , COVID-19 , Child Psychiatry/trends , Mental Health Services/trends , Pandemics , Adolescent , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Humans , Social Isolation