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Young people with mental health issues

Young people with psychiatric disabilities have also found that the government push for deinstitutionalisation has not been coupled with an equivalent increase in the supply of housing for them in the community. This has resulted in an increase in homelessness and neglect amongst this group of young people.

NYCH supports deinstitutionalisation as the preferable alternative to institutional care, however, stresses the limitations of community-based care if the community sector is not adequately resourced.

Young people with behavioural problems who do not have a diagnosed psychiatric illness are not properly provided for by any government department. There is a need for better coordination between government departments to provide services for these young people.

The Human Rights and Mental Illness Report (HREOC, 1993) found that the supply of services for homeless people with mental illness was utterly inadequate. Mental illness can be highly alienating, sometimes causing young people to lose contact with family and friends and can be a cause of homelessness in itself. Young people with mental illness often move from agency to agency, shelter to shelter. The Inquiry was told that homeless people with mental illnesses would often get into difficulties, such as having their benefit cut off, with no one around to help them get it back.
Young people with psychiatric disabilities have very few options after they have been discharged from hospital. Many young people need access to support at this stage. Clearly there is a great need to establish more supported housing for young people recovering from a stay in hospital.

Some services have been developed to assist young people who are homeless and who have psychiatric disabilities The Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centre, for instance, is a mental health service in Melbourne which is providing a comprehensive program for the care of adolescents and young adults at risk of, or in the early stages of a psychotic illness. It focuses' on the links between homelessness and mental health, and its services include a housing worker and a youth housing program.

Innovative housing and support models designed for young people with psychiatric disabilities need to be resourced and expanded throughout Australia.