Australia’s child mental health system

In a new study, led by Professor Harriet Hiscock and team, clinicians identified the barriers faced by Australian parents when seeking help for common child mental health conditions and the opportunities for improving the health system. 

A survey of mental health clinicians found that fragmented services, long wait times and inadequate training are preventing children from receiving high-quality mental health care in Australia.  

A new study led by Professor Harriet Hiscock and team, found with the mental health system struggling under major structural, training, resource and workforce issues, many vulnerable children were not receiving sufficient help that would likely improve their symptoms.  

Professor Hiscock said because half of all mental health conditions present before 14 years of age, access to high-quality mental health care for younger children was crucial.  

Clinicians have identified opportunities and many practical ideas to improve the system, including improved access to child psychiatrists, mental health training, co-located support services and referral pathways and Medicare funding changes. 

Professor Hiscock said with two major inquiries – the Productivity Commission into Mental Health and Victoria’s Royal Commission into Mental Health Services – Australia was ideally poised to test new models of care and training to improve access to and quality of child mental health care.  

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