News

New national centre of excellence targets better mental health for young people


6 August 2014

Raising the number of young people who receive tailored, evidence-based care for emerging mood disorders is the aim of a new national centre of research excellence launching in Sydney today.

Named Optymise, the NHMRC-funded service puts young people and their families at the centre of mental health care, says the one of the centre's architects, the University of Sydney's Professor Ian Hickie.

"Until now, we haven't really focused on young people's needs, we haven't optimised the personalisation of care, and we haven't really focused on sticking with young people through their journey so that they achieve the best possible health and social outcomes," says Professor Hickie, the director of the university's Brain and Mind Research Institute.

"This is a major national initiative to achieve those aims. A young person with an emerging mood disorder should receive a summary of what is really wrong and a clear path for tracking their progress over the time that they experience these problems.

"Another fundamental aim is to provide a system that puts young people and their families at the centre of care, rather than the current model, which is based around doctors and institutions. The process and impacts of clinical care will be transformed within five years," says Professor Hickie.

"It will look very different to today - better tools, better reports, and better ways to monitor and deliver care to achieve the best results possible for young people."

To achieve its ambitious aims, Optymise has gathered Australia's best mental health researchers and clinical service providers: the Brain and Mind Research Institute, the Black Dog Institute, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, and institutes in Queensland and South Australia.

Unique attributes:

- Personalised online assessments - young people will fill an online assessment that is personalised to their experience to generate a comprehensive snapshot of their particular mental and social health issues.

- Expert clinical interviews - young people will be interviewed by experienced psychologists and psychiatrists who have already read and appraised information from the online assessment.

- Further assessments to personalise diagnosis and care - Optymise offers a suite of advanced assessment tools to get a highly accurate understanding of a young person's mental, neurological, behavioural and social functioning. These tools include the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners and actigraphy monitors to log patterns of activity and sleep.

Optymise has targeted three areas of activity to achieve better mental and social health outcomes:

- Generating new knowledge that leads to better health

All treatments provided by Optymise will be informed by best available research evidence. Further, all treatments and their clinical results will be monitored and evaluated so that clinicians, researchers and patients benefit from an expanding repository of research-based evidence.

- Transferring research into health policy and practice

The Optymise team has an outstanding track record of translating research into health policy and practice. Optymise will actively translate new research findings into future clinical practice to ensure that best available treatments are accessible and acceptable to young people.

- Optimise the mental health workforce

Optymise will foster the rapid adoption of new, successful research based treatments across the mental health workforce.

See the video here.


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Media inquiries: Dan Gaffney, 048 100 4782, daniel.gaffney@sydney.edu.au