Filling the unmet need for youth mental health services | AMA (WA)


AMA (WA) | Chinar Goel

Filling the unmet need for youth mental health services

Thursday February 11, 2021

Dr Chinar Goel, St John of God Murdoch Hospital Mental Health Lead

We often hear the next generation, who speak openly about their feelings, described as soft or weak. They aren’t.

This is a generation which is better in tune with themselves and their environment than we’ve ever seen before.

That doesn’t make them soft or weak. It makes them kind, self-aware and compassionate.

It also makes them more aware of mental health.

Mental ill-health is more common than people might imagine, with nearly half of us experiencing some form of mental health problem in our lifetime.

The year 2020 has been particularly difficult for most people and the full impact and disruption due to COVID-19 is still not known.

While mental illness can develop at any point in a person’s life, about 75 per cent of people will first experience mental health problems in late adolescence and early adulthood.

This is the generation that will grow our country and make decisions that impact future generations and the environment. So, they need to be heard.

When our young people are hurting, we want them seen by health professionals quickly, so they can receive the help and tools they need to recover soon and in a sustainable way.

We know that access to treatment is effective and improves people’s lives. However, we hear all too often that the treatment system is fragmented and difficult to navigate.

But what are we actually doing to help our young people?

There is not a dedicated, specialist private service for young people and there are no private inpatient services in the southern Perth metropolitan area.

Services are often designed in a manner that is in response to the way they are funded, rather than being designed in a way that benefits the people who access them.

There is a clear unmet need in our community to help our young people be the best they can be.

That’s why I’m so delighted that St John of God Murdoch Hospital is developing a new 48-bed facility that will have a dedicated youth and adolescent service.

It will also cater for adults and include community care, structured day programs and specialist inpatient services for both age groups too.

As a non-profit provider of mental health services across the country, St John of God is in a unique position to change the way care is provided. St John of God is focused on putting the patients first. This means providing care across the continuum, ensuring that people have access to the care they need – when, where and how they need to access it.

This will ensure a truly person-centred approach and help people to live their best lives in their communities.

As Murdoch’s Mental Health Lead on this project, my top concern is delivering a program that’s all about compassion. Because if this year has taught us anything, it’s that we could all use a little bit of that right now.

For more information, please email Dr Chinar Goel at or visit