For three quarters of adults living with a mental health disorder, symptoms started before 24 years of age. This is why early diagnosis and engagement with treatment are so important. A new educational program from NPS MedicineWise focuses on challenges to support the mental health of young people. Overcoming stigma, communication challenges and difficulties navigating the health system are all key.
More than half of all young people experience some form of mental ill health by the age of 25. The problem has only been getting worse. Antidepressants prescribing to people under 25 almost doubled between 2011 and 2020. Calls to Lifeline, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline increased during COVID-19.
NPS MedicineWise medical advisor and GP Dr Caroline West says engaging in conversations with young people to understand their mental health needs is key.
“Getting early positive engagement is a really positive step for young people experiencing mental health distress, ensuring they get the care they need to recover and hopefully prevent progression or relapse,” says Dr West.
“Creating a non-stigmatising environment and building a connection as someone who cares is important.
“Ask the young person which pronouns they would like to be addressed by. This creates an atmosphere of trust that you are going to listen and respect them for who they are.
“Listening really carefully and genuinely collaborating with a young person is really important. It helps to be warm, respectful and interested,” she says.
As part of the educational program, NPS MedicineWise is visiting GPs across Australia to support health professionals in their consultations with young people.
A new MedicineWise News article gives perspectives from three experts in the field. The first contact a young person has with a health professional can be critical in helping them to engage with treatment and recovery. An ongoing relationship helps provide the most suitable and accessible treatment. For many cases, the best treatment may not involve medicines.
Additional tools and information are being developed to further support health professionals care for the mental health of young people. This includes person-centred factsheets, videos, podcasts and webinars.