Across the world, there is an alarming increase in mental health presentations to Emergency Departments (ED) by children and adolescents. Currently, very little is known about why this is happening, which is why research is vital, now and into the future.
For young Tasmanians experiencing mental health challenges, the Royal Hobart Hospital’s ED can be an initial or recurrent point of contact which provides an opportunity to address acute risk and provide early intervention. It also provides scope for much-needed local research.
We already know that optimum care for this vulnerable population requires sensitive consideration and a collaborative approach which is truly centred on these young people and their families. As with any large system, gaps can sometimes appear in complex care. A current research project aims to close those gaps with new approaches to care based on local research.
The 2020 Project Grant “The Kids are Not Okay – Understanding child and adolescent mental health presentations to the Emergency Department” has been generously supported through the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation by a local Tasmanian family with teenagers. They understand the impact of mental health challenges and the need for coordinated support that spans community and hospital care. Importantly, the family also recognise the need for research to guide how this should be enhanced in our local community, with learnings to then be used far and wide to improve lives of families locally, nationally and internationally.
This funding will enable a local research team made up of doctors from the RHH including Dr Viet Tran, an Emergency Physician, and Dr Nicholas Watkins, an Emergency Physician and Paediatrician, who will collaborate with an internationally renowned emergency paediatric researcher, Professor Simon Craig.
Tasmania is not immune to this increasing trend of mental health presentations to ED by children and adolescents. Our mental health service is unique and in tailoring care to young people’s varying needs, it is important to understand how hospital and community-based care can best be coordinated to support these vulnerable patients. Through carriage of this research, funded by the Foundation, our local patients, families, and clinicians will also have the opportunity to become part of a national study which will set the priorities for further research and health care investment at an even broader scale.
Understanding more about young people’s mental health presentations to ED, gaining insight into current care and how this matches against their needs will help build a new model of care for this vulnerable population, aiming to ensure a higher standard of care that arguably all Tasmanians deserve to enjoy.
Please consider providing a gift this June that will support local researchers on their quest for better community health outcomes now and into the future – it means so much to all of us and will help shape our children’s future.
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