Independent evaluation of headspace: the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, interim evaluation report
headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation is an Australian Government initiative first funded as part of the Federal Budget commitment to the Youth Mental Health Initiative (2005–06 to 2008–09), and launched in 2006. It aims to promote and facilitate improvements in the mental health, social wellbeing and economic participation of young Australians aged 12-25 years. The Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) was contracted by headspace and the University of Melbourne (UoM) to conduct the first independent evaluation of headspace in early 2008. It is a longitudinal evaluation with two Waves of data collection (2008 and 2009). This interim report presents data from the first Wave (2008). Most of the Wave 1 data were collected between late July and September 2008, at a time when many of the Communities of Youth Services (CYSs) had only recently opened and the components were still developing resources and refining support. A brief overview of this document (Muir et al., forthcoming) has also been produced. This report largely contains baseline information, but it also raises some preliminary questions around trends and issues introduced by early experiences of implementation. Many of these issues, along with an assessment of whether or not headspace has made further progress towards meeting its objectives, will be further explored in Wave 2 of the evaluation after the CYSs have been open for a longer period of time, and the headspace components have provided more resources to support the CYSs. This interim report is structured around the logic model of headspace to provide an understanding of how headspace works, the progress achieved thus far, and the factors that have facilitated and hindered establishment and implementation. For headspace to achieve its aims, it is critically important that headspace is delivering the required services, that young people are accessing these services, and that the services are appropriate and of quality. It is also important that headspace has started the process of establishing referral pathways beyond the CYSs, and that it is having some impact on broader service reform. After briefly covering the headspace model and evaluation methodology, this report is structured around the four areas of: service provision, access and quality, and broader service reform. It concludes by describing the relative contributions of the headspace components, the relationship between them and the governance of the initiative.