Young people in out-of-home care will have priority access to mental health services under the new Chief Psychiatrist’s Guideline, Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said today.
“The nature of the experiences these children and young people have had in their lives warrants them getting priority access to the range of services they so desperately need,” Ms Wooldridge said.
The guideline introduces priority service access for infants, children and young people in outof- home care who are experiencing a mental illness, or who may suffer significant developmental delay, functional impairment and emotional and psychological distress.
Ms Wooldridge said that joining up these services was critical to accommodating the varying needs of children in out-of-home care.
“Not surprisingly, children and young people who have experienced significant trauma have a high incidence of mental illness and behaviours such as substance abuse and self-harm,” Ms Wooldridge said.
“We recognise that we need to take action for children who have been neglected and abused to support them to get their lives back on track.”
Ms Wooldridge said the responsibility for providing support does not rest solely with one service or person and that staff would now have the training and support to understand the situations of these young people.
“The guideline starts breaking down silos and puts the young person back at the centre of the services. It says to them ‘yes, you are a priority for our support’,” Ms Wooldridge said.
The guideline is available here.