headspace - Australia's innovation in youth mental health: who are the clients and why are they presenting?

Med J Aust. 2014 Feb 3;200(2):108-11. doi: 10.5694/mja13.11235.


Objectives: To provide the first national profile of the characteristics of young people (aged 12-25 years) accessing headspace centre services - the Australian Government's innovation in youth mental health service delivery - and investigate whether headspace is providing early service access for adolescents and young adults with emerging mental health problems.

Design and participants: Census of all young people accessing a headspace centre across the national network of 55 centres comprising a total of 21 274 headspace clients between 1 January and 30 June 2013.

Main outcome measures: Reason for presentation, Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, stage of illness, diagnosis, functioning.

Results: Young people were most likely to present with mood and anxiety symptoms and disorders, self-reporting their reason for attendance as problems with how they felt. Client demographic characteristics tended to reflect population-level distributions, although clients from regional areas and of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background were particularly well represented, whereas those who were born outside Australia were underrepresented.

Conclusion: headspace centres are providing a point of service access for young Australians with high levels of psychological distress and need for care in the early stages of the development of mental disorder.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • National Health Programs / organization & administration*
  • Young Adult