Suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death among Australians aged 15-24 years. In order to reduce the burden of mental illness it is essential that we not only improve young people's access to professionals and services but ensure that mental health professionals and young people are better equiped to work together in the treatment and management of mental health disorders. Young people have tradititionally been viewed within the health sector as clients or service recipients. As a result compliance to treatment, whether pharmacological or psychological has been less than ideal. Current evidence suggests that involving young people directly in the development and delivery of services impacts positively on the individuals experience and service uptake. This paper is based on conference presentations by Reach Out! Youth Ambassadors Rosie Swanton and Ingrid Sorensen at the Australian and New Zealand Adolescent Health Conference in Sydney. These presentations explored Reach Out! a unique Australian Internet-based mental health service for young people. Since launching in 1998 it has been accessed by over four million users and 332 young people have been directly involved in the development and delivery of the serivce. This paper describes the Reach Out! youth participation model as a case study in youth participation. It presents and suggests practical steps to engage, understand and involve young people to increase the impact of mental health professionals and services in addressing the mental health needs of young people.
Int J Adolesc Med Health (International journal of adolescent medicine and health)
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