Monday , November 29 2021

A thirteen million dollar game changer for the mental health of young people


The BHP Foundation has partnered with the University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Center to change the way local Australian communities invest in young people’s mental health and social care.

The five-year program, which will begin in 2021 with “Direct Care, the First Time You Live,” will leverage the latest advances in systems modeling and simulation to drive national and local investment in sustainable, coordinated and digitally improved youth mental health care.

Professor Ian Hickie, co-director of the Brain and Mind Center, said this program addresses the problem facing communities across the country: how to know which combinations of programs and initiatives will work best, at what time, at what scale to give young people the best results to return to school, work and to move forward in communities.


  • less than one in five young people has access to quality or effective mental health intervention;
  • Three of the four major mental disorders appear in Australia before the age of 25;
  • suicide in 2019 had the highest number of years of potential lives lost in Australia;
  • the cost of mental illness and suicide is between $ 43-50 billion a year in the Australian economy.

The BHP Foundation AU $ 12.8 million partnership allows Brain and Mind Center researchers to collaborate with the International Non-Profit Computer Simulation and Advanced Research Technologies (CSART) Pact to work with local communities and their health agencies. Together, they will develop interactive dynamic models that place data-based national evidence in a local context, giving territorial mental health services the responsibility to respond to the mental health needs of young people on the ground in their communities.

Associate Professor Jo-An Atkinson, head of modeling, simulation and data science at Brain and Mind Center systems, said: “This place-based approach will provide local communities with the evidence they need to properly allocate local resources and funding.

“Systems modeling and simulation give decision makers the ability to look ahead, predict the mental health trajectory we have at the national and local levels, test alternative strategies and understand their potential impacts before investing significant time and resources. We no longer need to make blind investments,” he said. du.

The successful pilot program was conducted with Healthy North Coast, the North Coast Primary Health Network (PHN) provider, a region with some of the most difficult mental health problems in NSW. The pilot used modeling of dynamic systems to identify points and turning points in young people’s mental health trajectories. Over the course of nine months, general practitioners, educators, emergency services representatives, and experienced individuals and other community groups worked together to identify suicide risk factors. These were incorporated into a dynamic model to predict the impact that different combinations of interventions will have over time. Surprisingly, a number of interventions revealed this when they tested the rise in the projected suicide curve. Armed with these real-time data, PHN worked with communities and service providers to channel social connection through a program in six towns in the region.

Strategic philanthropy

In collaboration with local communities and their major health agencies, ‘Direct Care, the First Time You Live’ is developing and integrating models of locally designed dynamic systems in eight regions of Australia’s primary urban, regional and rural Health Network. The eight regions will be determined in 2021 along with representatives from indigenous peoples, health and other communities.

These local models will become a model to sustain or increase the mental health service needs of communities across the country.

James Ensor, CEO of the BHP Foundation, said: “The scale of the Australian youth mental health challenge calls for testing new perspectives. we need.

“This innovative project has the potential to have a real impact in Australia and globally, and is in line with the Foundation’s intentions here in Australia to provide young people with every opportunity to fulfill their potential.”

Professor Hickie today launched ‘Direct Care for the First Time Where You Live’: “This is a smart and very appropriate investment in transforming the large-scale and real system to support the next generation of young Australians. It supports specialization for long-term success and sustainability” “and that an inclusive implementation is essential.

“The bold investments of the future are at the heart of real innovation and rapid progress in these key social and economic issues.

“Helping young people get the right level of care, at the beginning of the disease, will save lives and move young people and their communities forward.”

Read more about the BHP Foundation

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