26 September 2023

NSW youth using mental health services

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The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) has issued a report on the NSW community’s use of mental health services, finding that the numbers of young people and others who have self-harmed, continue to rise across the State’s hospitals.

The independent BHI report Healthcare in Focus: People’s use and experiences of mental health care in NSW highlights intentional self-harm, the mental health of youth and the use of emergency departments by people with mental health issues.

Deputy Secretary at NSW Health, Dr Nigel Lyons said the report showed that most people receiving mental health services in the community and hospitals were young people, with emergency department presentations and admitted episodes for 15-24 year olds up 23 per cent over four years.

“NSW has around 700 mental health facilities, including more than 50 hospitals with mental health units and more than 500 community mental health teams,” Dr Lyons said.

“Each year they provide more than 40,000 episodes of hospital care and more than 3 million community contacts to more than 130,000 community clients,” he said.

“It is no surprise to see high numbers of young people using mental health services, with the average age of onset for most mental health conditions in the early twenties.”

Dr Lyons said the report showed that the Department’s efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health were making a difference, as increasing numbers of people seeking care may represent an increased willingness to seek treatment.

He said the report also highlighted the large number of people in NSW accessing health services to help them with intentional self-harm.

“Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy,” Dr Lyons said.

“Suicide prevention is everybody’s business and there is still much work to do.”

He said the Government had invested $87 million over three years to implement the Strategic Framework for Suicide Prevention 2018-2023.

“This will complement the NSW Premier’s Priority of reducing the suicide rate by 20 per cent by 2023,” Dr Lyons said.

The Bureau’s 82-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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