Transforming emergency mental health care for young Tasmanians

Published on
15 May 2024

Thanks to our incredible donors', the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation has supported a pivotal research initiative led by Dr Viet Tran addressing urgent needs in paediatric mental health care at the Royal Hobart Hospital's Emergency Department (ED). With a significant increase in emergency visits by children and adolescents experiencing mental health crises, this research shines a critical light on the acute challenges and potential improvements in handling such vulnerable patients.

The study, 'The Kids are Not Okay — Understanding Child and Adolescent Mental Health Presentations to the Emergency Department,' aims to dissect the reasons behind these emergency visits, evaluate the treatment provided, and assess the outcomes following discharge.

Since January 2020, Dr Tran and his team embarked on an extensive analysis involving detailed epidemiology of mental health issues in children visiting the ED, including suicidal ideation, acute behavioural disturbances, and other critical conditions. The study engaged multiple families and healthcare professionals, providing a robust dataset that underscores the need for targeted intervention strategies.

The study's findings were revealing. They highlighted that young people are seeking emergency help for their mental health much more often now with a concerning average ED stay exceeding national targets. This insight points to an urgent need for enhanced resources and strategies to manage these cases more effectively within the hospital and the community through a dedicated framework, which includes a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers.

In line with Mental Health Awareness Week, this project aims to improve immediate care for these patients and establish a long-term strategy that could prevent such emergencies. By providing a deeper understanding of the patterns and outcomes associated with paediatric mental health crises, the research sets a foundation for developing more effective treatment protocols and community-based support systems.

Thanks to our donor's support, the Royal Hobart Hospital is leading the way in integrating research-driven approaches into paediatric mental health care. The study's chief investigator, Dr. Viet Tran, is pioneering efforts to bring about systemic changes that promise to enhance care delivery and patient outcomes. This initiative exemplifies how targeted research and strategic funding can address critical healthcare challenges, paving the way for a better future for Tasmania's children.

Join us in celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week by backing essential research with the power to change lives. Discover more about our initiatives and help advance groundbreaking work by donating through our website or by contacting our office at (03) 6166 1319. Together, we can create a significant and enduring impact.