Young people will be on the front line of a new project that aims to reduce mental health hospital admissions in South Australia.

The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) will work with young people, their communities and key stakeholders to research, develop and test new interventions that seek to address the mental wellbeing of South Australians.

The aim is to equip South Australian communities to become a compassionate army of ‘first responders’ when someone is on the brink of a mental health crisis and also in the aftermath of a crisis.

We are pleased to join forces with TACSI to bring this project to life as part of our latest round of Discovery Funding grants. These grants support projects that are seeking answers, evidence and new information to improve the health of South Australians.

The project will focus on two communities – one metropolitan and one in regional South Australia. To help inform the project TACSI has partnered with young people who attend Youth Inc. in Adelaide’s CBD. Youth Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation that provides an alternative education pathway for young people aged 17-24. Many young people who attend Youth Inc. have personal experience of poor mental health and/or caring for a family member affected by mental illness.

Senior Social Innovator, Euan Black from TACSI says ‘Insights gathered by young people from everyday South Australians, especially people with lived experience of poor mental health will be an important part of the project.’

For too long we have overlooked the role of communities themselves as a fundamental part of the solution. Imagine if we leveraged the creativity and lived experience of our communities.

Euan Black

The aim of the project is for communities to see their young people as the valuable asset they are while developing their skills and capabilities to develop the most appropriate supports for their local areas. This approach seeks to create a grass-roots early intervention movement to help deal with issues and hopefully reduce the need for hospital admission while avoiding more tragic outcomes.

Euan says there is a critical need for work in this area as, despite significant investment suicide rates in Australia are at a 10-year high and suicide rates among younger people are troubling. Statistics show that 35% of suicides in 2016 were among young people aged 15-24 and 63% in people aged under 35.

South Australia is well placed to become a leader in creating 21st century health policy, as well as solutions that people want and need. We believe that young people are critical in making that happen.

Euan Black