From early intervention in psychosis to youth mental health reform: a review of the evolution and transformation of mental health services for young people

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2016 Mar;51(3):319-26. doi: 10.1007/s00127-015-1165-4. Epub 2015 Dec 19.


Purpose: The objective of this review is to report on recent developments in youth mental health incorporating all levels of severity of mental disorders encouraged by progress in the field of early intervention in psychotic disorders, research in deficiencies in the current system and social advocacy.

Methods: The authors have briefly reviewed the relevant current state of knowledge, challenges and the service and research response across four countries (Australia, Ireland, the UK and Canada) currently active in the youth mental health field.

Results: Here we present information on response to principal challenges associated with improving youth mental services in each country. Australia has developed a model comprised of a distinct front-line youth mental health service (Headspace) to be implemented across the country and initially stimulated by success in early intervention in psychosis; in Ireland, Headstrong has been driven primarily through advocacy and philanthropy resulting in front-line services (Jigsaw) which are being implemented across different jurisdictions; in the UK, a limited regional response has addressed mostly problems with transition from child-adolescent to adult mental health services; and in Canada, a national multi-site research initiative involving transformation of youth mental health services has been launched with public and philanthropic funding, with the expectation that results of this study will inform implementation of a transformed model of service across the country including indigenous peoples.

Conclusions: There is evidence that several countries are now engaged in transformation of youth mental health services and in evaluation of these initiatives.

Keywords: Early intervention; Service delivery; Youth mental health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Early Intervention, Educational
  • Health Care Reform*
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Psychotic Disorders / therapy
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult