Minister for Mental Health Jai Rowell recently announced $2.1 million in NSW Government funding for the first stage of the planned statewide expansion of a successful community living support program for young people with severe mental illness.


During a visit to the Birunji Youth Mental Health Unit at Campbelltown Hospital, Mr Rowell announced that under the first wave of expansion five Youth Community Living Support Services will be funded, starting with $279,000 in this financial year.


Joined at the announcement by Member for Campbelltown Bryan Doyle, Mr Rowell said the NSW Government’s commitment to Youth Community Living Support Services builds on the successful trial of the Young People’s Outreach Program (Y-POP) delivered by RichmondPRA in Western Sydney.


“An independent evaluation of the Y-POP service operated by RichmondPRA found an 80 per cent reduction in the amount of time spent in hospital by young clients after entry to the program,” Mr Rowell said.


“In addition, all participants made significant and demonstrable progress across a number of aspects of their lives, such as social engagement, employment and/or education, independent living skills, health and well-being, self-esteem and confidence levels.”


Mr Rowell said Youth Community Living Support Centres will be established in South Western Sydney, Hunter New England, Nepean Blue Mountains, Northern NSW and Western Sydney Local Health Districts.


“Previous NSW community living support programs for people with severe mental illness have focussed on the needs of adults,” Mr Rowell said.


“The Youth Community Living Support Service program will be developmentally appropriate for young people aged 16 to 24 years and their families.


“Youth Community Living Support Services will support young people’s recovery in the earlier stages of their illness and reduce their risk of developing more significant disability. They will tailor care and support, with individual community living support plans developed in collaboration with the young person and their family.


“These services will provide practical assistance in developing living skills, accessing education and training, improving relationships with family and friends, making healthy lifestyle choices related to diet, exercise, smoking and drug and alcohol use.


“They will also provide access to other services to address young people’s needs, such as income support, employment, drug and alcohol and other health services, accommodation and recreation, while ongoing clinical care will be provided by the local mental health service.


“Youth Community Living Services will also assist families and carers to understand and support their young person with a mental illness, build and strengthen relationships with them and seek support for their own health needs.


“The NSW Government is committed to enhancing services in the community and improving the lives of young people experiencing psychosis or other severe mental illness.


“This commitment forms part of the NSW Government’s $115 million investment over three years to commence the implementation of the NSW Strategic Plan for Mental Health,” Mr Rowell said.


Mr Doyle said he was pleased that Youth Community Living Support Services would be extended to the South Western Sydney LHD, during the first wave of expansion.


“These services will be a real boon for local young people living with mental illness by providing them with their best chance at recovery outside of a hospital setting, where they are surrounded by their existing support network of friends, family and carers.


Member for Camden Chris Patterson also expressed his excitement at the annoucenment, saying while he recognised there would always be a demand for mental health care delivered in a hopsital setting, it was great to see that more services would be delivered to the region to boost care delivered in the community.


“Our region boasts some great facilities and a dedicated frontline mental health workforce to assist kids in need of care, but it is an incredibly positive step to see more services offered to keep young people well in the community before they reach crisis point.”


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