McGowan Government invests in innovative mental health solutions for children
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McGowan Government invests in innovative mental health solutions for children

by Freya Lucas

July 13, 2022

Western Australian children and young adults are set to benefit from 11 new innovative solutions aimed at strengthening mental health and building resilience and confidence, solutions which arose from the Innovation Challenge 2021: Child and Youth Mental Health.

 

The challenge is aimed at supporting some of WA’s brightest minds to find new ways to meet the needs of children and young people experiencing poor mental health.Those who participated in the challenge were competing for up to $1.5 million to fully develop and implement their concepts.

 

Eleven of the participants have been awarded up to $50,000 each to undertake feasibility studies or build prototypes to progress their ideas. The eleven successful proposals include better screening, interactive apps delivered in real time, digital solutions to engage teenagers, and a “safe haven café” for young people experiencing mental health issues in the Peel region.

 

In the early childhood space Dr Rona Kelly will use funding to improve the early identification and intervention for children with ADHD. 

 

Estimates suggest that more than seven per cent of children aged 4 to 17 years have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with long-term outcomes including a range of mental health conditions that persist into adulthood. 

 

Dr Kelly’s project aims to pilot an innovative approach including consumer engagement and co-design of an online ADHD resource portal, for earlier identification and intervention for children presenting with attention and concentration difficulties.

 

Dr Amy Finlay-Jones will use program funding for Identify and Act, a universal electronic screening and support system that aims to provide a critical starting point for the prevention and early intervention of emerging mental health difficulties in infants and young children. 

 

This novel solution aims to provide care not currently available to families, such as the capacity to remotely assess early childhood mental health advice, provide real-time feedback and guidance, and link families to more specialised care if needed.

 

“The McGowan Government is pleased our Future Health Research and Innovation Fund will deliver this program,” said WA Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson. 

 

“Innovation is essential to improving health promotion, treatment and care in our health system and we have a responsibility to do all we can to create a community where children and young adults can thrive.”

 

Early childhood, WA Mental Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson continued, “is a critical time for brain development and functioning. Childhood experiences build the foundations of life-long resilience, social and emotional wellbeing, and self-esteem.”

 

More information about the Innovation Challenge can be found on the FHRI Fund website.

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