Are we reaching them now? Service access patterns amongst users of headspace youth mental health services
Despite the high prevalence of mental health problems among young people in Australia, various groups - males, 'older' young people (aged 18-25 years), those lacking support from family and friends, and socially and economically excluded young people - are less likely to access mental health services. The national youth mental health service, headspace, attempted to reach these groups by providing free, specialist services specifically targeted at young people. This paper examines the extent to which headspace has addressed unmet service need amongst various groups of young people by comparing users of the service with young people with mental health problems in the general population using data from the 2007 National Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey. It finds that headspace has generally been successful in improving access, particularly amongst socially and economically excluded young people and those lacking support from family and friends. 'Older' young people and males are still under-represented amongst headspace service users, however, and form a group that is potentially in need of more careful targeting in the latest expansion of the initiative.