Mental Health Matters for $2.6m Evaluation

4 December 2018

“We want healthy, happy, and supported kids into the future, and it’s exciting for our team to be working on a project that will focus on that outcome for the federal government.”

Associate Professor Simon Smith reflects on the new $2.6m evaluation he is leading for the Australian Department of Health. Over three years, a team of mixed-method researchers from ISSR will assess the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program, an initiative to build the capability of key workforces to support positive mental health in young Australians. In collaboration with colleagues at the Telethon Kids Institute, ISSR is looking at the role of educators, health workers, and others working with children in supporting child and youth mental health, how they can be best assisted, and how these benefits might be tracked over time.

“It is very exciting to be working on a project with the federal government which aims for a new level of coordination of services across a range of national providers,” says Associate Professor Smith. 

The National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program targets workforces well placed to make a difference. It funds beyondblue to deliver its school-based National Education Initiative, supporting teachers and early childhood educators promote mental health and wellness in children and young people. Emerging Minds also receives funding for its National Workforce Support in Child Mental Health initiative to provide resources and support for professionals and services who work with young people at risk of mental health difficulties and their families. 

The linked, but distinct, activities of beyondblue and Emerging Minds are conducted across different organisations and in a range of communities, so ISSR is advancing an evaluation approach that is informed by life course theory.

“We are developing quantitative indicators to measure and monitor national mental health outcomes related to the program implementation. We will use a national survey and community case studies to deeply understand the impact of increasing the capabilities and confidence of people working directly with children and young people to recognise and respond to mental health risks and promote resilience” Associate Professor Smith said.

“Our aim is to produce results that show clearly what the Commonwealth Government is doing to build the capability of community-level supports. We will deliver a plan for the government to keep tracking these effects over time”.