26 September 2023

New mental health services to treat kids

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Two new mental health services for use by young people, have been opened in the new wing of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children at the Canberra Hospital.

The new 14-bed adolescent unit has eight medical beds and six more for mental health patients and represents the first time the ACT public health system has had dedicated mental health beds available for young people.

To be operated by Canberra Health Service, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) will use the six dedicated mental health beds providing care for young people who require treatment for acute mental illness.

The Service said the eight medical beds were to be used for young people who had been admitted to hospital, with two of them designed to be easily adapted to meet demand in the unit.

Clinical Director of CAMHS, Ilona DiBella said the specialised team was experienced in working with young people and their families.

“The CAMHS Adolescent Mental health Unit is a safe place for young people as staff are conscious of and attentive to adolescent’s vulnerabilities,” Dr DiBella said.

“Having a dedicated inpatient space for young people from 12 up their 18th birthday experiencing mental health problems means that young people who require treatment for moderate to severe mental illness can now access this in a purposefully designed setting that considers their developmental, psychological and physical needs,” she said.

She said the features of the new Adolescent Unit included:

* A negative pressure room to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases;

* A bariatric rated room and lifter for obese patients a treatment room;

* A sensory room within the mental health section of the unit;

* Interview spaces, and

* A dedicated place for recreation and therapeutic activities, a family lounge and courtyard.

Dr DiBella said the new Adolescent Day Program had also moved into a permanent home at the Centenary Hospital.

“The program provides a range of mental health programs to support individual and group therapy, parenting sessions, activity-based programs and psycho-education to assist with the continued recovery of young people,” she said.

Adolescent Day Program Team Manager Kieran Dixon, said an important element of the program was young people being able to connect with “… others who have similar stories or have been through similar things and being able to have that shared experience and learn how to recover together.”

More information about the Centenary Hospital Expansion Project can be accessed at these PS News link.

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