Matthew McCurryHospital School SA
Presenting at the Adelaide MHIS Conference
Hospital School SA - A health and education multidisciplinary approach to address the mental health needs of young people in South Australia
Supporting Improved Mental Health in Schools (SIMHS) program: supporting schools to improve the mental health of young people through advocacy and allyship, after a paediatric emergency department (PED) presentation or admission. Increasing numbers of school students experiencing mental health concerns that are impacting on their attendance, wellbeing, and learning. In the last 12 months in South Australia, this was approximately 4000 school-aged young people who presented to PED experiencing a mental health crisis. Hospital School SA shares the impact of their SIMHS Program (Supporting Improved Mental Health in Schools) and how their goal of improving mental health outcomes through advocacy and allyship is reducing barriers to access and increasing responsive care in schools. We can be intentional about the intervention we provide, and our support planning based on their identified needs. We can have collaborative discussions with medical and education teams to understand the young person’s circumstances. We can use our judgement, informed by our shared knowledge and experience of that young person to determine risk factors, and make plans for responsive actions and review. We can listen together to their lived experience and communicate to them that their views, ideas, and experiences hold value. That we can help these young people together. We can be intentional about the support we provide through our shared knowledge of the impacts of mental health. We can have collaborative discussions with the people involved in their treatment and education to support the young person to have their needs identified, planned for, and reviewed. We can listen together to the young person’s lived experience and communicate to them our interest and support. We can help the young person to make sense of their own stories through belonging and connection to their teacher and peers. A 12-month review was conducted, and a multidisciplinary report was produced. The program informed a change in attendance coding state-wide so that schools could accurately record their student as ‘attending’ through a HSSA program. The review and report gave schools and the department data sets:
– Data for Emergency Mental Health Presentations and for Mental Health Admissions.
– Data highlighting the individual presenting issue.
– Data identifying state-wide demographic and cohort.
This collaboration between health and education shares the expertise between the two key areas to ensure a safe return to school forms a key component of children and young peoples’ mental health treatment. The service is centred on a drive to put the needs of children and young people at the heart of educational engagement. To break down the complex concerns from educational environments and to establish clear responsibility for putting in place a coherent offer of support. The 12-month report shows that real success comes from collaboration and sets a challenge to all those working with children and young people. Only by working in partnership, sharing expertise, and making best use of finite resources can we achieve the improvements in mental health outcomes that we all want to see for the children and young people we support.