Improving mental health in young people.
ABSTRACT The gap between unmet need and access to care for mental ill-health is wider for adolescents and young people aged 12-25 years than any other age group worldwide. This age group is the peak time of onset for many mental disorders including mood, substance abuse and psychotic disorders. Effective interventions in primary or specialist care are likely to be most cost-effective at this age. Yet in most countries there are few opportunities for young people and their families to gain access to treatment and care for mental ill-health and preventive interventions. This is especially important for young people exposed to trauma and adversity. Few countries give sufficient attention to safeguarding and improving the mental health of young people and few have developed policies and programs to support this. Policy and practice changes suitable for each country have two essential starting points: improved understanding of youth mental health within communities; and involving young people and their families in decisions that affect them. Using information technology to assist care is another desirable feature of modern service development suitable for any environment. New directions and models of care to respond to better awareness and help-seeking and new approaches to health promotion are being developed in several countries, and psychiatrists have a central role in supporting these developments.