Young people in Far North Queensland are the first in the state to benefit from a new specially-designed recovery service for people aged 16-21 requiring sub-acute mental health support.
The Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Steven Miles officially opened the new Youth Step Up Step Down service in Mayers Street, Manoora today.
Member for Cairns Michael Healy said The Youth Step Up Step Down service is a six-bed, home-like community facility for young people.
“The Step Up Step Down program is a residential mental health program that aims to prevent relapse and to assist people recovering from a mental illness,” Mr Healy said.
"This facility is designed specifically to support young people and help them stay out of hospital or to help them transition from hospital back into the community,”
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the facility would be run by the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service in conjunction with Aftercare, Australia’s oldest mental health charity, offering short-term treatment programs to help young people.
“Whether it’s providing early intervention for people at risk of inpatient admission or providing a transition service for patients returning to the community, the Step Up Step Down unit provides appropriate mental health services close to home,” Mr Crawford said.
“It’s about supporting young people who do not require inpatient treatment but need short-term supported accommodation to maintain their recovery and become independent.”
Minister Miles said the Palaszczuk Government had invested $6 million for the new facility in response to strong community support.
“Youth mental health advocate Ruth Crouch was instrumental in securing the $6 million in Government funding for this Youth Step Up Step Down facility,” Minister Miles said.
“Tragically, Ruth lost her 13-year-old son Declan to suicide in 2011 and her input into this service has been very valuable.
“The Youth Step Up Step Down service will provide much needed capacity to assist young people with mental health issues in Far North Queensland.”
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Mental Health Service Director, Marie Kelly said the facility will be staffed by Aftercare 24-hours a day.
“We will have nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and psychologists who will visit and work with young people in a comfortable, safe environment,” she said.
“An enormous amount of work has gone in to getting this facility and the service model right, working in collaboration with the Cairns community and other important stakeholders.”
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Board Chair Clive Skarott said improving community access to mental health services was a key priority for the Board.
“Mental health is a major issue facing young Australians and this facility will play a vital role in providing recovery and care, so our young people can realise their dreams and be a strong part of this community,” Mr Skarott said.
Aftercare Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Young, said his organisation was delighted to be partnering with the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service to expand mental health services in the city.
“Providing seamless specialist mental health support for young people is critical both for ensuring far better long-term outcomes for individuals and for reducing the ongoing burden of mental illness in the community,” he said.
Minister Miles said two more facilities like this one were planned for Brisbane.
“The government has committed to building two Youth Step Up Step Down facilities in South and North Brisbane,” he said.
“We’re also delivering three new adult Step Up Step Down recovery services facilities in Mackay, Bundaberg, and Gladstone and building a new $27 million adolescent mental health centre at The Prince Charles Hospital campus to replace the Barrett Centre closed by the previous LNP government.”