“Re-presentations are more likely among young people who typically face inequitable access to health care, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people and people living outside major cities. We also noted there were higher re-presentations among people who left without completing treatment or were in the ED for longer periods of time,” explains Dr Cullen.
The researchers said it was essential that EDs, as well as community mental and primary health care services, are aware of those young people at highest risk of re-presentation and work together to strengthen navigation pathways out of the ED to provide follow up mental health care that is more appropriate than recurrent visits to the ED.
Despite the pandemic, this is not a new issue
“We know young people are experiencing high rates of mental health difficulties and distress, and there can be long wait times to access care in the community. While this has been exacerbated during the pandemic, our study demonstrates this is not a new issue. For many young people, access to care is also limited by lack of services where they live, particularly specialised mental health and primary care services that are trauma-informed, culturally safe and youth-friendly.”
The study highlights the vital role EDs play in frontline mental health care for young people, as well as the importance of providing youth-friendly mental health care, both in the ED and through referral pathways into community-based services that can provide ongoing care.
“The study emphasises that we need to ensure equitable access to care so that all young people can receive support in community-based primary and/or mental health care services. We also need to make sure that EDs are well equipped to provide youth-friendly mental health care with appropriate referral and follow-up for young people,” says Dr Cullen.