Background to the Young People’s Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Use: Priorities for Action 2020-2025

In December 2020 the Young People’s Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Use: Priorities for Action 2020-2025 (YPPA) was launched.


We know that 3 in 4 people with a mental illness develop symptoms before the age of 25; that there is a lack of young people accessing services and seeking help; and that non health services and organisations are important in both preventing mental illness from developing and facilitating recovery. Poor mental health costs the Australian economy an estimated $200-$220 billion in 2018-19, which does not include the substantial impacts of COVID-19.

The Western Australian Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Services Plan 2015-2025 recognises the specific developmental challenges for young people, particularly with regard to mental health and alcohol and other drugs (AOD) in planning for future services. The State Priorities 2020-2024 further identifies young people as a high priority group requiring specific focus over the next four years.

The YPPA guides the State Government, the Mental Health Commission and other agencies, the mental health and AOD sector, and other stakeholders across the community, in supporting and responding to the mental health and AOD needs of young people aged 12 to 24 years. Children aged 0-11 are equally important and a framework to set out priority action for them will be developed in the near future.

The YPPA also builds on previous plans, strategies and frameworks developed by Government and non-government organisations. A list of these resources can be found here.

It is recognised that young people come into contact with a range of services and sectors, broader than the mental health and AOD sector alone. Also, that mental health and AOD issues of young people can be impacted by a wide range of social and economic factors. For this reason, the YPPA has been developed in close partnership with the mental health and AOD sector, other government agencies, non-government organisations and key stakeholders including young people, their families and carers, and was overseen by a Directors General Steering Committee, the Mental Health Executive Committee and the Community Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Council.

Engagement Strategies

Prior to the release of the YPPA, the Mental Health Commission undertook a comprehensive consultation and engagement process to inform the YPPA development.

Stakeholder workshops

In the week commencing 12 October 2020, Nous Group (Nous), as commissioned by the Mental Health Commission, facilitated a series of workshops (two in-person workshops in Perth, and two virtual workshops) with representatives from State and Commonwealth government agencies, and the mental health and AOD services sector. The objectives of these workshops were to:

  • inform the development of a 5-year vision for the mental health and AOD service system for young people;
  • test and validate the gaps in the current system identified through previous consultations, and test that this is still valid in the COVID-19 context; and
  • prioritise initiatives and strategies that can help achieve the vision for the future mental health and AOD service system.

A list of workshop attendees is available in the Nous consultation summary report.

Consultations with young people and carers

In September 2020, Mental Health Commission engaged the Youth Affairs Council of WA (YACWA) to undertake targeted engagement with young people aged 12 to 24 to inform the development of Young People Priorities Framework. The intent of the engagement was to:

  • Determine gaps, challenges across the mental health and AOD service system (from prevention and early intervention through to treatment and acute care) for young people aged 12 to 24 years.
  • Provide input into an agreed vision for WA, regarding the mental health and AOD service system for young people aged 12 to 24 years.
  • Determine opportunities for improvements, next steps for the system and key areas of focus for the State and the strategies required to achieve the agreed vision.
  • Acknowledge the varying age cohorts which are present across the mental health and AOD system; consider whether evidence supports aligning the mental health and AOD age cohorts; and if so, provide recommendations for how this could be achieved.

YACWA have developed two consultation reports, Youth Engagement and Carer Engagement.

Meetings, discussions and presentations

From September through to October 2020, the Mental Health Commission has met with the following agencies, organisation and key stakeholders to discuss the development of the YPPA and to hear and take on board the gaps, current responses and opportunities in respect to addressing the mental health and AOD needs of young people in Western Australia. Information from these meetings will be made available as permissions are provided by stakeholders. The following stakeholders have been engaged:

Aboriginal Advisory Council of WA

Aboriginal Advisory Group

Aboriginal Health Council of WA

Anglicare WA

Child and Adolescent Health Service

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

Commissioner for Children and Young People

Consumers of Mental Health WA

Department of Education with representatives from Independent Education Union of Australia: WA Branch, State School Teachers’ Union of WA, Western Australian Council of State School Organisations, Western Australian Primary Principals' Association, Western Australian Secondary School Executives Association, and YouthCARE

East Metropolitan Health Service

Eating Disorders Sub Network

Forensic Mental Health Sub Network


Magistrates and Judges

Mental Health Advisory Council/Alcohol and Other Drug Advisory Board

Mental Health Advocacy Service (see advocacy and what works)

Mental Health Network Executive Advisory Group

Mental Health Sub Network Co-Chairs Meeting

Metropolitan Suicide Prevention Coordination Reference Group

Multicultural Advisory Group

Multicultural Mental Health Sub Network

Neami National

Neuropsychiatry and Development Disability Mental Health Sub Network

North Metropolitan Health Service

North Metropolitan TAFE and the Department of Training and Workforce Development

Office of the Chief Psychiatrist

Rockingham and Kwinana Mental Health Sub Network

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Save the Children Australia

South Metropolitan Health Service

Supporting Communities Forum

Sustainable Health Review Forum

Western Australian Association for Mental Health

Western Australian Council of Social Service

Western Australian Country Health Service

Western Australian Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies with representatives from Cyrenian House, Goldfields Rehabilitation Service Inc., Holyoake, Milliya Rumurra Aboriginal Corporation, Mission Australia, Ngnowar Aerwah Aboriginal Corporation, Palmerston Association, Peer Based Harm Reduction WA, and St John of God Social Outreach South West Community Alcohol and Drug Service

Western Australian Primary Health Alliance


Youth Mental Health Sub Network


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