In 2022, the Australian Human Rights Commission surveyed 4,559 children aged 9-17 and 2,796 parents and guardians across Australia to better understand the challenges that COVID-19 have posed to children’s wellbeing and mental health. Key findings are detailed in the report which also makes eight further recommendations.
20-year outcomes in adolescents who self-harm: A population-based cohort study
This Victorian study investigates whether young people who self-harm are at increased risk of psychosocial problems later in life. The study followed a sample of almost 2000 Victorian school children from the age of 14 until the age of 35. Anxiety, illicit drug use, and social disadvantage were more common at age 35 among participants who had self-harmed during their teenage years. The study calls for a response from multiple sectors to address the underlying risk factors that contribute to life-long health and social problems.
This is the sixth annual report outlining how children and young people in the ACT are tracking against key indicators such as physical health and wellbeing and development in the early years. Notably, the number of children enrolled in a preschool program has increased by more than 35 per cent over three years, and the rate of young people charged with a criminal offence has almost halved since 2011.
A ‘Situational Approach’ to Mental Health Literacy in Australia: Redefining mental health literacy to empower communities for preventative mental health
This paper argues for a paradigm shift for effective suicide prevention in Australia. It takes a situational approach to mental health literacy, which represents a significant departure from the current medical framework and its emphasis on illness. The situational approach to mental health literacy is concerned with the continuum of challenging life events and human experiences across the life course, and normalising human distress. It encourages constructive and non-pathologising responses to mental health issues amongst mental health practitioners and other professionals.
Being Present: An exploratory study on the use of mindfulness in early childhood
This small US study looks at the types of mindfulness practices currently being used in an early childhood education setting to promote a sense of wellbeing in children. Many teachers reported that they use meditation and mindfulness when the children in their classroom were restless or stressed. The majority of teachers included in the study reported that using mindfulness practices resulted in positive behavioural and physical outcomes in their early childhood classrooms.
Can early childhood interventions decrease inequality of economic opportunity?
This article published in the Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, investigates whether expanding access to early child education and care (ECEC) will reduce economic inequality later in life. The evidence suggests that multiple life domains, including academic achievement, behaviour, and mental health, can be improved if children are exposed to quality early childhood education.
Causes of death up to 10 years after admissions to hospitals for self-inflicted, drug-related or alcohol-related, or violent injury during adolescence: a retrospective, nationwide, cohort study
According to new research, teenagers injured through drinking, drug abuse or self-harm are five times more likely of dying from suicide in the next decade. The study examined hospital data relating to more than one million young people aged 10 to 19 who were admitted to an emergency department in the UK between 1997 and 2012 having suffered an injury. The authors suggest that adolescents admitted to hospital for drug, alcohol, or violence-related injury should be seen by a mental health professional to reduce the risk of suicide in later life.
Child poverty and mental health: A literature review
This literature review explores the relationship between child poverty in New Zealand and the impact that poverty can have on the mental health of a child or young person, or later as an adult. It provides an overview of the extent and nature of child mental health and poverty in New Zealand, and the links between the two. The literature review shows that mental health conditions among children and adolescents can be reduced by addressing severe and persistent poverty, particularly during the early years of a child’s life.
Child Protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children
This updated resource sheet provides a snapshot of the rates of involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection and out-of-home care. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are almost seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be the subject of substantiated reports of harm or risk of harm. Further, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are 9.8 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care. The experience of poverty, assimilation policies, intergenerational trauma and discrimination is discussed in relation to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the Child protection system.
Children and Families Evidence: Findings from Six Evidence Gap Maps
This report was developed in collaboration with Melbourne University and identifies gaps in published literature pertaining to 5 key focus areas; Aboriginal children and families, out of home care, high-risk young people, trauma-informed practice, children with disabilities and their families and family violence.
Parental mental illness affects roughly 23% of Australian children. In light of this statistic, Response Ability has developed a fact sheet that outlines the ways in which parenting capacity may be impacted, and the social and emotional implications for children. The resource provides tips and guidelines for educators to help prevent children of parents with a mental illness from experiencing learning and development difficulties. Educators and teachers are identified as key contact points through which children and families can access mental health support.
Children’s social care innovation programme: Final evaluation report
The UK Department for Education has published an overview of the evaluation of the children’s social care innovation program in England 2014 to 2016. The report includes findings from project evaluations that show reductions in children entering care, children living in residential care and increased reunification with birth families. From these evaluations, a number of recommendations for best practice emerge, including the adoption of a family focused, strengths-based approach that supports families to take responsibility for their own lives; multi-professional teams including workers in family violence, mental health and drug and alcohol; and a ‘key worker’ to provide consistency.
Clinical, financial and social impacts of COVID-19 and their associations with mental health for mothers and children experiencing adversity in Australia
This multi-authored article, published in PLOS One, examines families’ experiences of COVID-19 impacts and the associations between COVID-19 impacts and maternal and child mental health. The authors surveyed 319 mothers from Victoria and Tasmania who had experienced adversity during pregnancy in 2013-14, and found high rates of self-quarantine, job or income loss, family stress and difficulty managing home learning. Poorer mental health for mothers and children was found to be associated with self-quarantine, financial hardship and family stress.
Clusters of COVID-19 impact: Identifying the impact of COVID-19 on young Australians in 2021
This collaborative piece by Orygen and Mission Australia presents the findings of a 2021 survey of Australians aged 15 to 19 years. The study identifies aspects of their lives that were most negatively impacted by lockdowns and the groups who were most affected by COVID-19 and associated lockdowns. The study also makes recommendations for policy and practice.
Commissioning cost-effective services for promotion of mental health and wellbeing and prevention of mental ill-health
A report released by Public Health England looks at mental health intervention models and programs, and their associated costs and benefits. The interventions considered include school based programs to prevent bullying and those aimed at preventing depression in children and young people. One program examined was the KiVA program, a school-based anti-bullying program used in the majority of schools in Finland. The program was found to be particularly effective in reducing cyber bullying.
Concepts of community: Young people’s concerns, views and experiences
This report presents the findings from Mission Australia’s Youth Survey 2016 with respondents grouped according to whether they lived in low, moderate or high socio‐economic status (SES) areas across Australia. The report compares the views and experiences of young people from the three SES areas in relation to selected topics. The three most principal issues identified in the survey were alcohol and drugs (24.5%), equity and discrimination (23.2%), and mental health (17.6%). The findings of the survey can inform the development of policies and programs for young people, especially those from low SES areas.
Critical interpretive synthesis: Child protection involvement for families with domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues, and mental health issues
This report by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) explores the occurrence, overlap or interrelationships between domestic and family violence, alcohol and other drug issues and mental health issues in Australian families involved in the child protection system. A critical interpretive synthesis of the academic and grey literature found significant weaknesses in the evidence base. The study concluded that further research is needed to understand these interactions in the Australian context.
Cyberbullying and adolescent well-being in England: a population-based cross-sectional study
This article examines the prevalence of traditional bullying and cyberbullying in adolescents in England, and assesses its relative effects on mental well-being. The research finds that face-to-face bullying remains most common among teenagers, and that cyberbullying is unlikely to provide a source for new victims. Rather, it is a new avenue for victimisation for those already experiencing traditional forms of bullying.
A new report published by ANROWS examines the impact of inter-parental conflict (IPC) and domestic and family violence (DFV) on parenting and parent–child relationships. The report shows that emotional abuse is a serious issue in family breakdowns, and those women at the more extreme end of family violence are experiencing multiple and overlapping types of abuse, including emotional, physical, sexual and financial abuse. The report also found a relationship between the presence of family violence and parenting capacity, satisfaction with parent-child relationships, and child wellbeing. The report concludes with key recommendations to improve policy and practice.
Economic volatility in childhood and subsequent adolescent mental health problems: a longitudinal population-based study of adolescents
The aim of this paper was to explore the relationship between exposure to low family income during childhood, and symptoms of mental health problems in adolescence. By using a range of outcome measures, the researchers determined that exposure to poverty in childhood was found to be associated with most mental health problems in adolescence, suggesting the need for targeted early interventions to support families to overcome poverty.
This short video from the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health provides a general overview of evidence informed practice and its three pillars; research evidence, practice expertise and client experience.
Exploring the decline in wellbeing for Australian girls
The Commissioner for Children and Young People Western Australia has released this report reviewing the current evidence on girls’ wellbeing to understand the reasons for the wellbeing gap between male and female young people. It was found that gender stereotypes, driven in part by increasing social media usage, affect self-esteem, low engagement in physical activity, reduced feelings of safety and independence, and decreased sense of belonging for girls. The report calls for urgent action to improve girls’ wellbeing outcomes.
Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute have collaborated to produce a report on youth mental health. The report presents findings from youth survey data collected between 2012- 2016, and comments on the psychological stress experienced by young people and their help-seeking behaviour. One significant finding included in the report was that one in four young people (aged 15-19) who responded to the survey met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness (PSMI)and that PSMI has increased among young people over the past 5 years, particularly among females. The risk of mental health issues is greater in Indigenous groups than non-Indigenous groups. This report shows that more targeted investment is needed to address the concerning levels of mental health issues amongst young Australians.
Helping young children who have experienced trauma: Policies and strategies for early care and education
This report from Child Trends and the National Center for Children in Poverty includes a review of the prevalence of early childhood trauma in the US and its effects on the child, family and wider society. The report discusses promising strategies for ECEC providers that aim to support children who have experienced trauma, and presents a number of recommendations for policymakers. It highlights the need to develop an integrated, trauma-informed culture for young children.
Helping young children who have experienced trauma: Policies and strategies for early care and education
This National Centre for Children in Poverty (NCCP) paper presents an overview of early childhood trauma, the impact it has on young children and brain development and promising strategies for trauma-informed care in early care and education. Along with high quality programming, strong policy is crucial to meeting the emotional and early learning needs of children who have experienced trauma. The NCCP makes a series of recommendations to better support access to quality, trauma-informed early care and education.
Implementing evidence-informed practice: a practical toolkit
This Evidence Check from the Sax Institute synthesises the best available research evidence about when inpatient care is the most effective and appropriate form of care for children and adolescents with moderate to severe mental disorders. Indicators such as risk of self-harm or suicide, poor physical health and family-related characteristics are considered. The report emphasises that developing a comprehensive range of mental health services for children and adolescents should be an important policy focus for Australia.
Instrumental learning and cognitive flexibility processes are impaired in children exposed to early life stress
This research project aims to understand the impact of severe early stress exposure on learning and cognitive flexibility during adolescence. The results show that adolescents with histories of early stress were impaired in both instrumental learning and cognitive flexibility. Early stress can also have a profound impact on learning, attention and working memory. These finding may be used to guide early intervention programs with at-risk youth.
Investigating the mental health of children exposed to domestic and family violence through the use of linked police and health records
In this report Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) presents findings from a unique set of data collected over a 30-year period in Western Australia. Researchers looked at instances of engagement with mental health agencies for children under the age of 18 who had been exposed to family violence. Key findings are detailed in the report.
This Kids Helpline Australia report outlines the issues affecting children and young people in Australia. In 2016, counsellors responded to over 3,400 contacts each week from children and young people seeking information, support or counselling. The impact of technology continues to create innovation but also concerns about safety. There has been a 151% growth in young people using WebChat over five years.
Making the grade: A progress report and next steps for Integrated Student Supports
Integrated Student Supports (ISS) models in schools recognise that students’ unmet non-academic needs can undermine their academic success. ISS offers specific services and supports to students and their families, such as housing assistance mental health services, to build a foundation for academic success. This review synthesises the existing evidence relating to the ISS approach to schooling. Several strong evaluations show support for the ISS model, highlighting flow-on effects for long-term family outcomes.
Making Young Minds Matter: Reshaping support services for young people in the new parliament
ResPublica has published a report about improving mental health services for children and young people in the UK. The report proposes three pillars to underpin the design and delivery of support services offered to vulnerable children and young people: early intervention and prevention; collaboration between all relevant stakeholders; and the active participation of young people in shaping the support that they need. These principles may be used to inform the work of government and community organisations, to secure better outcomes for children in care, experiencing mental health issues or facing any other barriers to their wellbeing and success.
Mental health and suicide prevention: Final report
The House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention has released the final report of its inquiry into mental health and suicide prevention. The report assessed the current landscape, reviewed the recommendations already before the Australian Government, and examined the gaps. Key areas of focus included COVID-19 and recent natural disasters, accessibility, virtual mental health care, workforce, funding, building the evidence base, and social determinants of health and wellbeing. The report makes 44 recommendations.
Mental health resources: an A-Z index for professionals
This collection from raisingchildren.net.au brings together articles, videos and guides related to mental health support for children and families. Organised from A to Z and by topic area, this is a great starting point for professionals working with families where either a parent of a child needs support.
National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ Mental Health and Social and Emotional Wellbeing 2017-2023.
During this year’s World Mental Health Week, the Federal Government launched a framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s mental health. This framework sets out a comprehensive and culturally appropriate guide to inform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing reforms. The framework is vital to the healing and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, who continue to experience greater levels of mental health issues than the broader population.
NHMRC report on the evidence: Promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life
The National Health and Medical Research Council presents an analysis of the programs and services offered to parents of young babies, provided in pregnancy or the first year of life. The paper is particularly interested in those interventions that influence infant social and emotional wellbeing. The report claims that education and support programs for parents, and programs, designed to foster a healthy bond between baby and parent, have shown encouraging results. However, there is need for further research to identify which programs are most effective in giving babies the best start in their emotional and social life.
Parenting programs that support children’s mental health through family separation: A common elements analysis
This paper from Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) identifies the common elements of evidence-based parenting programs that support children’s (aged 0–12 years) mental health through parental separation to inform the decisions practitioners make in their practice. The analysis identified 15 common elements. Four elements were related to content provided to parents by programs and included the topics of emotional management in separation, parenting in separation, co-parenting in separation, and the impact of separation on children. The remaining 11 were techniques used in programs and included psychoeducation, group participation, skills practice, personalising content, problem solving, assigning and reviewing homework, encouraging, normalising difficulties, video content, attending to group process, and providing materials.
Peer victimisation, depressive symptoms, and substance use: A longitudinal analysis
A new study led by the University of Delaware found that children who are bullied in fifth grade are more likely to suffer from depression in seventh grade, and have a greater likelihood of using alcohol, marijuana or tobacco in tenth grade. The study shows the long term impact of peer victimisation experiences in early adolescence, which affects mental health and substance use in later life.
Access a range of facilitation tools, journey mapping tools, role playing tips and techniques, voting systems and more, to better manage co-design processes with multiple stakeholders. Created by Iriss and used in Pilotlight, these tools will be relevant to lots of different organisations and situations.
Power Struggles: Everyday battles to stay connected
The Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) has released a report highlighting the daily struggles that Australian families living on low-incomes are facing in order to pay their electricity bills. Real life stories are presented in this report, drawing on interviews with 10 Victorian households. VCOSS makes several policy recommendations based on the findings of the research.
Presentation @ OPEN Forum – The Case for quality: The (chaordic) path to youth and family engagement in Ontario
In this OPEN Forum, Mary Ann Notarianni discussed how the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health have developed their thorough 'Quality Standards' for engaging with both young people and with families.
Presentation @ OPEN Symposium 2019 – The STACY project: Keeping children visible working with parental mental health and substance misuse in the context of family violence
Lucy Healey (University of Melbourne) and Rosie Carr (Uniting ReGen) discuss The STACY Project, which focuses on improving collaborative working with families living with family violence, where children’s wellbeing is impacted by intersecting parental issues of mental health and substance misuse. It utilises the Safe & Together™ Model to work with all family members, including child and adult victim/survivors and perpetrators. This project revealed the challenge of keeping the focus of care on both the children’s needs and on the family violence occurring.
Preventing adolescent relationship abuse and promoting healthy relationships
This paper from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse looks at the issue of violence and abuse in adolescent relationships. Psychological and emotional abuse are shown to be the most common forms of violence among this demographic. School and community based violence prevention programs have an important role to play in supporting young people to build healthy relationships. The report suggests that school curricula and community prevention models need to work alongside one another to create change in relation to violent behaviour in adolescent relationships.
Promising Practice Guide: Improving the Social and Emotional Wellbeing of Young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Severe and Complex Mental Health Needs
This promising practice guide from Orygen draws on an emerging, yet disparate, evidence-base about promising
practices aimed at improving the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. It aims to support service providers, commissioners, and policy-makers to adopt strengths-based, equitable and culturally responsive approaches that better meet the needs of this high-risk population.
This document developed by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental health outlines a number of principles and practices for engaging with families. These were co-developed with a youth advisory group and seek to ensure a high quality of client engagement and service.
This document developed by the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health outlines a number of principles and practices for engaging with young people. These were co-developed with a youth advisory group and seek to ensure a high quality of client engagement and service.
Rapid Case Study: Youth Leadership Program – Centre for Multicultural Youth
This case study sheds a light on the Youth Leadership Program Area at Centre for Multicultural Youth. It talks about principles and values which respect the views and abilities of young people from diverse backgrounds, and has transferable lessons for all kinds of youth participation models.
Review of mental health programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in out-of-home care
This article published in the International Indigenous Policy Journal reviews the programs, policies and interventions that aim to improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people living in out-of-home care (OOHC). The review identified nine programs or policies that are designed to improve the social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Aboriginal young people in OOHC in Australia and abroad. The report concludes that there is a need for culturally competent service provision and attention to the monitoring and evaluation of mental health policies and programs.
School-based Depression and Anxiety Prevention Programs for Young People: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
This paper investigates the effectiveness of school-based programs in preventing depression and anxiety in young people. It is particularly interested in the validity of embedding mental health prevention programs into the school curriculum. This paper highlights the need for improvements in access to mental health prevention services for young people, opposed to treatment after the fact.
Self-harm and suicidal behaviour of young people aged 14-15 years old
New research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has measured the rates of self-harm and suicidal behaviour among Australian teenagers. The Australia-wide study found that 10 per cent of 14-15 year-olds reported that they had self-harmed in the previous 12 months and 5 per cent had attempted suicide. The study examined the factors linked to self-harm and found some teens were more at risk than others, including those who are same-sex attracted or experiencing depression or anxiety.