A better response to youth in crisis

More than one million young Australians experience mental illness each year, and half of all young people experience a mental health issue before age 25. Youth mental health crises increased during Covid-19 lockdowns and have remained high. The Mindgardens Youth Navigation Flagship is forging stronger links between youth mental health, drug and alcohol and related services. We are making care more accessible to young people in crisis, so it is easier to get back on track with work, study and relationships at this critical life stage.

In this video, youth peer worker Rosie Singh describes how she uses her lived experience to guide Mindgardens’ Youth Integration Project.


Integration to address youth service gaps

The Mindgardens Youth Integration Project is a research collaboration with headspace national and other partners to explore how to fine-tune the youth mental health system. We think we can extract better value from the system if we integrate young people’s care across disparate services, provide information in forms they and their families understand, and empower them to navigate their own journeys.

In the first stage, Mindgardens researchers have reviewed academic and general-audience publications to build a picture of integrated youth mental health care.  In partnership with headspace National, they examined real-world examples of services for people aged 12-24 years, such as the Australian headspace services, and the Foundry, in British Columbia, Canada, to examine what promotes integration and what stands in the way. (Click on the image to read the report on this work).

In its next stage, the Mindgardens Youth Integration Project will pilot test novel solutions to these issues that can be rapidly scaled up if effective. We think service integration can transform young people’s mental health care; now we are committed to finding practical evidence that it actually works.



Half of all young people experience at least one period of mental ill-health before the age of 25


One in three Australians aged 12-25 years report high levels of psychological distress


75% of mental health disorders appear between adolescence and young adulthood

1 million

1 million young Australians experience mental illness each year

Lived experience shapes everything we do

Mindgardens provides a  supportive environment for young people and their carers and families to have their say and participate in the design and implementation of the youth mental health services.

How MindLabs contributes


Professor Jackie Curtis AM

Executive Director

Professor Jackie Curtis AM

Executive Director

Professor Jackie Curtis was appointed inaugural Executive Director in April 2020. She is a psychiatrist and was previously the Clinical Director of Youth Mental Health at the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District. Her research and clinical work over several decades has focused on early psychosis and youth mental health, including improving the cardiometabolic health of people living with serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia, with the aim of reducing health inequalities and increasing life expectancy. Jackie developed and implemented the internationally recognised Keeping the Body in Mind program, demonstrating that antipsychotic-induced weight gain can be prevented with lifestyle intervention, and is the co-founder and Co-Chair of the iphYs international working group advocating for improved physical health for youth experiencing psychosis. An invited committee member of the World Health Organisation working group for the international guidelines: management of physical health conditions in adults with severe mental disorders, Jackie is also a Conjoint Professor in the School of Psychiatry at UNSW Sydney. In 2023 she was the recipient of the prestigious Margaret Tobin Award from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. In 2024, she was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2024 King’s Birthday Honours.

Professor Raghu Lingam

Professor Raghu Lingam

Professor Raghu Lingam is Professor in Paediatric Population Health at the University of NSW, Honorary Professor at the Black Dog Institute and a Consultant Community Paediatrician in the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network. He established and leads the Population Child Health Research group at UNSW and co-leads the Kids to Adults clinical academic group as part of Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE).

Professor Lingam’s expertise is in the development of health services interventions that are evaluated at scale; he has run randomised controlled trials in the Australia, UK, India, Pakistan, Uganda, and Mozambique. He co-leads the Children and Young Peoples’ Health Partnership (CYPHP) a health systems transformation initiative for over 120,000 children in London based around a primary care-based learning health system.  Over the last 5 years he has attracted more than £11.5million of UK research funding from the UK National Institute for Health and Care Research, the World Bank, and national charity and Government funding. In Australia he has attracted more than $7 million of research funding over the last two years.

Rose Singh

Rose Singh

Rose Singh is a Research Project Officer with experience in quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.

In her role as a mental health peer worker, Ms Singh provides peer support to clients, helping young people develop and capitalise on their resilience and individual strengths, advocate for their voice in recovery, improve their quality of life in line with their values and advocate for equity, resources, supports and quality of care. She specialises in keeping young people who experience mental health issues connected with education.

Ms Singh holds a Bachelor of International Relations, Politics and History from the Australian National University and is qualified in primary education. She has also completed a Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work from the NSW Mental Health Coordinating Council.

Dr Michael Hodgins

Dr Michael Hodgins

Dr Hodgins is a Senior Research Associate at the School of Women’s and Children’s Health at UNSW. His research experience reflects a keen interest in qualitative methods and knowledge translation. He has more than eight years’ experience conducting qualitative research in healthcare, with a specific passion for arts-based and innovative methodologies. This work has included exploring health priorities and knowledge translation in community-based palliative care, knowledge translation in youth health, the delivery of mental health services to rural populations, and the evaluation of health implementation initiatives. He holds a PhD from Western Sydney University, and a Masters in Qualitative Health Research at The University of Sydney.

Funding Sources

  • Commonwealth grant funding awarded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
  • headspace National

Other Research Projects

Find out more about Mindgardens supported youth-focused research.

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