20-year outcomes in adolescents who self-harm: A population-based cohort study

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This Victorian study investigates whether young people who self-harm are at increased risk of psychosocial problems later in life. The study followed a sample of almost 2000 Victorian school children from the age of 14 until the age of 35. Anxiety, illicit drug use, and social disadvantage were more common at age 35 among participants who had self-harmed during their teenage years. The study calls for a response from multiple sectors to address the underlying risk factors that contribute to life-long health and social problems.

A Picture of ACT’s Children and Young People 2016

Education, Mental Health, Young People

This is the sixth annual report outlining how children and young people in the ACT are tracking against key indicators such as physical health and wellbeing and development in the early years. Notably, the number of children enrolled in a preschool program has increased by more than 35 per cent over three years, and the rate of young people charged with a criminal offence has almost halved since 2011.

A ‘Situational Approach’ to Mental Health Literacy in Australia: Redefining mental health literacy to empower communities for preventative mental health

Mental Health

This paper argues for a paradigm shift for effective suicide prevention in Australia. It takes a situational approach to mental health literacy, which represents a significant departure from the current medical framework and its emphasis on illness. The situational approach to mental health literacy is concerned with the continuum of challenging life events and human experiences across the life course, and normalising human distress. It encourages constructive and non-pathologising responses to mental health issues amongst mental health practitioners and other professionals.

Being Present: An exploratory study on the use of mindfulness in early childhood

Early years, Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This small US study looks at the types of mindfulness practices currently being used in an early childhood education setting to promote a sense of wellbeing in children. Many teachers reported that they use meditation and mindfulness when the children in their classroom were restless or stressed. The majority of teachers included in the study reported that using mindfulness practices resulted in positive behavioural and physical outcomes in their early childhood classrooms.

Can early childhood interventions decrease inequality of economic opportunity?

Early years, Mental Health

This article published in the Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, investigates whether expanding access to early child education and care (ECEC) will reduce economic inequality later in life. The evidence suggests that multiple life domains, including academic achievement, behaviour, and mental health, can be improved if children are exposed to quality early childhood education.

This literature review explores the relationship between child poverty in New Zealand and the impact that poverty can have on the mental health of a child or young person, or later as an adult. It provides an overview of the extent and nature of child mental health and poverty in New Zealand, and the links between the two. The literature review shows that mental health conditions among children and adolescents can be reduced by addressing severe and persistent poverty, particularly during the early years of a child’s life.

This updated resource sheet provides a snapshot of the rates of involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection and out-of-home care. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of substantiated reports of harm or risk of harm. Further, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care. The experience of poverty, assimilation policies, intergenerational trauma and discrimination is discussed in relation to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Child protection system.

This report was developed in collaboration with Melbourne University and identifies gaps in published literature pertaining to 5 key focus areas; Aboriginal children and families, out of home care, high-risk young people, trauma-informed practice, children with disabilities and their families and family violence.

Children of Parents with a Mental Illness

Families and parenting, Mental Health

Parental mental illness affects roughly 23% of Australian children. In light of this statistic, Response Ability has developed a fact sheet that outlines the ways in which parenting capacity may be impacted, and the social and emotional implications for children. The resource provides tips and guidelines for educators to help prevent children of parents with a mental illness from experiencing learning and development difficulties. Educators and teachers are identified as key contact points through which children and families can access mental health support.

Children’s social care innovation programme: Final evaluation report

Mental Health, Evaluation, Report

The UK Department for Education has published an overview of the evaluation of the children’s social care innovation program in England 2014 to 2016. The report includes findings from project evaluations that show reductions in children entering care, children living in residential care and increased reunification with birth families. From these evaluations, a number of recommendations for best practice emerge, including the adoption of a family focused, strengths-based approach that supports families to take responsibility for their own lives; multi-professional teams including workers in family violence, mental health and drug and alcohol; and a ‘key worker’ to provide consistency.

Commissioning cost-effective services for promotion of mental health and wellbeing and prevention of mental ill-health

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

A report released by Public Health England looks at mental health intervention models and programs, and their associated costs and benefits. The interventions considered include school based programs to prevent bullying and those aimed at preventing depression in children and young people. One program examined was the KiVA program, a school-based anti-bullying program used in the majority of schools in Finland. The program was found to be particularly effective in reducing cyber bullying.

Concepts of community: Young people’s concerns, views and experiences

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, low income

This report presents the findings from Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2016 with respondents grouped according to whether they lived in low, moderate or high socio‐economic status (SES) areas across Australia. The report compares the views and experiences of young people from the three SES areas in relation to selected topics. The three most principal issues identified in the survey were alcohol and drugs (24.5%), equity and discrimination (23.2%), and mental health (17.6%). The findings of the survey can inform the development of policies and programs for young people, especially those from low SES areas.

Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

This article examines the prevalence of traditional bullying and cyberbullying in adolescents in England, and assesses its relative effects on mental well-being. The research finds that face-to-face bullying remains most common among teenagers, and that cyberbullying is unlikely to provide a source for new victims. Rather, it is a new avenue for victimisation for those already experiencing traditional forms of bullying.

A new report published by ANROWS examines the impact of inter-parental conflict (IPC) and domestic and family violence (DFV) on parenting and parent–child relationships. The report shows that emotional abuse is a serious issue in family breakdowns, and those women at the more extreme end of family violence are experiencing multiple and overlapping types of abuse, including emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. The report also found a relationship between the presence of family violence and parenting capacity, satisfaction with parent-child relationships, and child wellbeing. The report concludes with key recommendations to improve policy and practice.

Economic volatility in childhood and subsequent adolescent mental health problems: a longitudinal population-based study of adolescents

Mental Health, Poverty

The aim of this paper was to explore the relationship between exposure to low family income during childhood, and symptoms of mental health problems in adolescence. By using a range of outcome measures, the researchers determined that exposure to poverty in childhood was found to be associated with most mental health problems in adolescence, suggesting the need for targeted early interventions to support families to overcome poverty.

Five Year Mental Health Youth Report

Mental Health, Young People

Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute have collaborated to produce a report on youth mental health. The report presents findings from youth survey data collected between 2012- 2016, and comments on the psychological stress experienced by young people and their help-seeking behaviour. One significant finding included in the report was that one in four young people (aged 15-19) who responded to the survey met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness (PSMI)and that PSMI has increased among young people over the past 5 years, particularly among females. The risk of mental health issues is greater in Indigenous groups than non-Indigenous groups. This report shows that more targeted investment is needed to address the concerning levels of mental health issues amongst young Australians.

Helping young children who have experienced trauma: Policies and strategies for early care and education

Education, Early years, Mental Health

This report from Child Trends and the National Center for Children in Poverty includes a review of the prevalence of early childhood trauma in the US and its effects on the child, family and wider society. The report discusses promising strategies for ECEC providers that aim to support children who have experienced trauma, and presents a number of recommendations for policymakers. It highlights the need to develop an integrated, trauma-informed culture for young children.

Helping young children who have experienced trauma: Policies and strategies for early care and education

Education, Youth Justice, Early years, Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, Practice Tool

This National Centre for Children in Poverty (NCCP) paper presents an overview of early childhood trauma, the impact it has on young children and brain development and promising strategies for trauma-informed care in early care and education. Along with high quality programming, strong policy is crucial to meeting the emotional and early learning needs of children who have experienced trauma. The NCCP makes a series of recommendations to better support access to quality, trauma-informed early care and education.

Implement

Implementing evidence-informed practice: a practical toolkit

Mental Health, Tool/toolkit

This toolkit by the Ontario Centre for Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health provides a comprehensive framework and tools to kick start the implementation process.

Inpatient care for children and adolescents with mental disorders

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, Report

This Evidence Check from the Sax Institute synthesises the best available research evidence about when inpatient care is the most effective and appropriate form of care for children and adolescents with moderate to severe mental disorders. Indicators such as risk of self-harm or suicide, poor physical health and family-related characteristics are considered. The report emphasises that developing a comprehensive range of mental health services for children and adolescents should be an important policy focus for Australia.

Instrumental learning and cognitive flexibility processes are impaired in children exposed to early life stress

Early years, Mental Health

This research project aims to understand the impact of severe early stress exposure on learning and cognitive flexibility during adolescence. The results show that adolescents with histories of early stress were impaired in both instrumental learning and cognitive flexibility. Early stress can also have a profound impact on learning, attention and working memory. These finding may be used to guide early intervention programs with at-risk youth.

This Kids Helpline Australia report outlines the issues affecting children and young people in Australia. In 2016, counsellors responded to over 3,400 contacts each week from children and young people seeking information, support or counselling. The impact of technology continues to create innovation but also concerns about safety. There has been a 151% growth in young people using WebChat over five years.

Making the grade: A progress report and next steps for Integrated Student Supports

Education, Mental Health, Report

Integrated Student Supports (ISS) models in schools recognise that students’ unmet non-academic needs can undermine their academic success. ISS offers specific services and supports to students and their families, such as housing assistance mental health services, to build a foundation for academic success. This review synthesises the existing evidence relating to the ISS approach to schooling. Several strong evaluations show support for the ISS model, highlighting flow-on effects for long-term family outcomes.

Making Young Minds Matter: Reshaping support services for young people in the new parliament

Mental Health, Young People

ResPublica has published a report about improving mental health services for children and young people in the UK. The report proposes three pillars to underpin the design and delivery of support services offered to vulnerable children and young people: early intervention and prevention; collaboration between all relevant stakeholders; and the active participation of young people in shaping the support that they need. These principles may be used to inform the work of government and community organisations, to secure better outcomes for children in care, experiencing mental health issues or facing any other barriers to their wellbeing and success.

National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health, Tool/toolkit

During this year’s World Mental Health Week, the Federal Government launched a framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health. This framework sets out a comprehensive and culturally appropriate guide to inform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing reforms. The framework is vital to the healing and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who continue to experience greater levels of mental health issues than the broader population.

NHMRC report on the evidence: Promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life

Early years, Families and parenting, Mental Health

The National Health and Medical Research Council presents an analysis of the programs and services offered to parents of young babies, provided in pregnancy or the first year of life. The paper is particularly interested in those interventions that influence infant social and emotional wellbeing. The report claims that education and support programs for parents, and programs, designed to foster a healthy bond between baby and parent, have shown encouraging results. However, there is need for further research to identify which programs are most effective in giving babies the best start in their emotional and social life.

Peer victimisation, depressive symptoms, and substance use: A longitudinal analysis

Mental Health, Young People, Alcohol and Other Drugs

A new study led by the University of Delaware found that children who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to suffer from depression in seventh grade, and have a greater likelihood of using alcohol, marijuana or tobacco in tenth grade. The study shows the long term impact of peer victimisation experiences in early adolescence, which affects mental health and substance use in later life.

Access a range of facilitation tools, journey mapping tools, role playing tips and techniques, voting systems and more, to better manage co-design processes with multiple stakeholders. Created by Iriss and used in Pilotlight, these tools will be relevant to lots of different organisations and situations.

Power Struggles: Everyday battles to stay connected

Families and parenting, Mental Health

The Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) has released a report highlighting the daily struggles that Australian families living on low-incomes are facing in order to pay their electricity bills. Real life stories are presented in this report, drawing on interviews with 10 Victorian households. VCOSS makes several policy recommendations based on the findings of the research.

Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – The STACY project: Keeping children visible working with parental mental health and substance misuse in the context of family violence

Families and parenting, Family Violence, Mental Health, Conference presentation

Lucy Healey (University of Melbourne) and Rosie Carr (Uniting ReGen) discuss The STACY Project, which focuses on improving collaborative working with families living with family violence, where children’s wellbeing is impacted by intersecting parental issues of mental health and substance misuse. It utilises the Safe & Together™ Model to work with all family members, including child and adult victim/survivors and perpetrators. This project revealed the challenge of keeping the focus of care on both the children’s needs and on the family violence occurring.

Preventing adolescent relationship abuse and promoting healthy relationships

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing, Practice Tool

This paper from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse looks at the issue of violence and abuse in adolescent relationships. Psychological and emotional abuse are shown to be the most common forms of violence among this demographic. School and community based violence prevention programs have an important role to play in supporting young people to build healthy relationships. The report suggests that school curricula and community prevention models need to work alongside one another to create change in relation to violent behaviour in adolescent relationships.

Promising Practice Guide: Improving the Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Severe and Complex Mental Health Needs

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health, Young People, Report

This promising practice guide from Orygen draws on an emerging, yet disparate, evidence-base about promising practices aimed at improving the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. It aims to support service providers, commissioners, and policy-makers to adopt strengths-based, equitable and culturally responsive approaches that better meet the needs of this high-risk population.

This document developed by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health outlines a number of principles and practices for engaging with young people. These were co-developed with a youth advisory group and seek to ensure a high quality of client engagement and service.

Review of mental health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in out-of-home care

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Mental Health, Out of Home Care (OOHC)

This article published in the International Indigenous Policy Journal reviews the programs, policies and interventions that aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people living in out-of-home care (OOHC). The review identified nine programs or policies that are designed to improve the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people in OOHC in Australia and abroad. The report concludes that there is a need for culturally competent service provision and attention to the monitoring and evaluation of mental health policies and programs.

School-based Depression and Anxiety Prevention Programs for Young People: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Education, Mental Health

This paper investigates the effectiveness of school-based programs in preventing depression and anxiety in young people. It is particularly interested in the validity of embedding mental health prevention programs into the school curriculum. This paper highlights the need for improvements in access to mental health prevention services for young people, opposed to treatment after the fact.

Self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people aged 14-15 years old

Mental Health, Young People

New research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has measured the rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviour among Australian teenagers. The Australia-wide study found that 10 per cent of 14-15 year-olds reported that they had self-harmed in the previous 12 months and 5 per cent had attempted suicide. The study examined the factors linked to self-harm and found some teens were more at risk than others, including those who are same-sex attracted or experiencing depression or anxiety.

Identify, Design, Evaluate

Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)

Education, Mental Health, Tool/toolkit

The SDQ is a well validated and population-normed instrument which assesses in respect of emotional problems, peer problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and prosocial behaviour. Learn more about the SDQ...

This Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) analysis presents an overview of teens' employment, by age and gender. This includes when and how often teens are working, in what types of employment and the income they receive for their employment. At 14-15 years old, almost 40% had worked in the previous year, with more girls employed (42%) compared to boys (36%).

The association between paternal and adolescent depressive symptoms: Evidence from two population-based cohorts

Mental Health

Researchers at the University College London (UCL) have published a study looking at the link between paternal and adolescent depressive symptoms. The study of 14,000 families in the UK and Ireland show an association between depressive symptoms in fathers and depressive symptoms in their adolescent children. Currently, interventions for preventing adolescent depression focus largely on mothers. This research challenges this approach and suggests that treating depression in both parents is important to the mental health of their children.

The Hard Road: National economic & social impact survey 2017

Mental Health, Safety and wellbeing

The Salvation Army has released the findings from its sixth annual Economic and Social Impact Survey (ESIS). The national survey explores the challenges experienced by those who access the Salvation Army’s Emergency Relief (ER) services. It shows that the top three day-to-day challenges faced by individuals and families include being able to afford enough food to eat, managing mental health and emotional wellbeing, and managing financial stress. Homelessness and housing stress were also important themes that emerged from the study, with 44% of respondents having moved house at least three times in the past 12 months and 66% experiencing extreme housing stress.

Understanding child outcomes within a multiple risk model: examining parental incarceration

Families and parenting, Mental Health

Research has shown that parental incarceration has a significant impact on child outcomes. This study aims to develop a more nuanced understanding of risk and how it manifests itself in outcomes for children and families. It suggests that risk factors such as parental incarceration should not be considered in isolation. Other factors such as parental mental illness are shown to be significant indicators of negative outcomes for children. The complex ways in which these risk factors interact have significant implications for policy and practice, particularly in relation to case management services intended to address ongoing needs.

Welfare-to-work interventions and their effects on the mental and physical health of lone parents and their children

Families and parenting, Mental Health, low income

A new Cochrane Review has been released, reviewing large welfare-to-work studies conducted in the US with the aim of uncovering their health effects. It examines a series of welfare-to-work studies, comparing the health outcomes for single parents who were in welfare-to-work interventions with single parents who were not. Although some policy makers have traditionally argued that welfare-to-work policies have positive health benefits, the findings of this review indicate that there is likely to be little to no effect on health.

Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre has released a paper that examines how the accommodation needs of unaccompanied children aged under 16 have been articulated and addressed across a number of Australian jurisdictions. The paper follows from an earlier release of ‘Too Hard? Highly vulnerable teens in Tasmania’, which found that highly vulnerable teens struggle to find safe accommodation, and that a completed circle of care was needed to ensure they do not fall through the cracks. This iteration explores the policy, programs and services offered in other Australian states and territories which address the shortage of medium and long-term care for older children unable to return home.

This report by the Centre for Social Impact and National Australia Bank measures financial exclusion and resilience in Australia. Based on a nationwide survey of over 2000 people, key findings show that access to financial products and services has gotten worse, but understanding of and confidence in using financial services and products has increased. People living in very short-term rentals, born in a non-English speaking country, and with a mental illness were more likely to be in severe financial stress. The report calls for a concerted cross-sectoral response to improve financial resilience in Australia.