Australia's national Youth Mental Health Foundation
A network of centres and online resources providing young people with early intervention services that cover four core areas: mental health, physical (including sexual) health, work and study support and alcohol and other drug services.
What solution does the innovation propose?

Research shows that 75 per cent of mental health disorders emerge before the age of 25. By treating these issues early and providing a holistic model of support, the risk of them developing into more serious problems, including suicide, is greatly decreased. Headspace provides young people aged 12-25, their families and friends with resources to deal with those situations, strengthening communities to understand and support them. The intervention is designed to make it easy to get solutions to problems affecting wellbeing: through Headspace centres, online counselling and support to schools, the organisation provides direct clinical services, health promotion and community awareness activities.

Impact evidence

  • In ten years, more than 270,000 people have received help and treatment at Headspace centres and other services. 60% showed significant change (reducing psychological distress and/or improving their psychosocial functioning). The other 40% made smaller improvements that didn’t reach significance or were still receiving services.
  • The School Support program has engaged more than 2,200 secondary schools.
  • An independent evaluation (2015) found headspace treatment costs were comparable to community mental health service delivery and if Headspace did not exist, “it is likely that large numbers of young people would not access services or would access them at a much later stage in the development of their disorders, potentially incurring significant costs to the government as well as difficulties for the young people and their families”. The report highlighted significant successes including:
    • A reduction of suicidal ideation and self-harm.
    • Users having better outcomes than young people receiving other treatment or no treatment.
    • People receiving headspace support taking fewer days off work and study due to mental health issues.
    • Clients being overwhelmingly positive about Headspace and generally satisfied with the services received. Accessibility to a diverse group of young people with high levels of psychological distress.
    • Power to attract users from marginalised and at risk groups, and people traditionally disadvantaged in their access to health care including Indigenous young people, young people living in regional areas and LGBTI.
How does it work?

Information and services can be accessed by youth and their families in two different ways:
- Headspace centres: A network of physical centres operating across metropolitan, regional and rural areas. Access through a single front door ensures users get appropriate support, regardless of the health issue they are facing. Spaces are designed to create a comfortable, warm environment that does not look like other clinical services and where users can drop in without an appointment. Centres are equipped with free Internet and places to relax, and all services are confidential, free or low cost. There, a range of workers are available including General Practitioners, psychiatrists, mental health workers (psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, nurses) and other professionals (youth workers, alcohol and other drug workers, vocational workers) who are specifically trained to deal with young people. Services are designed with regular input from users to make them relevant, accessible and valuable.
- Eheadspace. A national online and telephone support service aimed to help young people who aren’t able to access centres or prefer to do it via online chat, email or phone. Providing an anonymous place to talk to a professional, it reaches those who wouldn’t ordinarily seek help at a face-to-face service. Eheadspace is available seven days a week between 9:00am and 1:00am, and sessions generally last for 30-60 minutes. Headspace also runs professional training and specific programs for aboriginal youth, the LGBTQI community, refugees and asylum seekers and school communities recovering from suicide. Videos, tips and other resources are always available through the website, as well as myheadspace, an online progress tracking application.

Geographical scope

Where has been implemented so far
93 centres located throughout Australia