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Mental health issues affect children from all walks of life but children in care or at risk of entering care are particularly vulnerable as they often come from homes with there are multiple complex issues. This FACSIAR Lunch and Learn provides practitioners with insights on understanding and managing the mental health needs of children in out-of-home care (OOHC).

Presentation slide decks

Understanding the mental health needs of children known to child protection services using linked administrative and self-report data
Professor Melissa Green, School of Clinical Medicine, Discipline of Psychiatry and Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney
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Mental health trajectories of children in out-of-home care- findings from the POCLS study
Dr Nan Hu, Research Fellow, Faculty of Medicine, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney
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“Light at the end of the tunnel” – managing children in OOHC with significant mental health problems
A/Professor Rajeev Jairam, Clinical Director, Infant Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (ICAMHS), Mental Health, SWSLHD, Associate Professor (conjoint) Western Sydney University and Senior Lecturer (conjoint) University of New South Wales, Sydney
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The efficacy of trauma based therapies for Aboriginal children and young people in out-of-home care – A journey through LINKS Trauma Healing Service
Debbie Haynes, Aboriginal Psychologist/MPsyc Clinical Candidate, LINKS Trauma Healing Service, Department of Communities and Justice
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Additional materials

FACSIAR Evidence to Action notes and Summaries related to the NSW Child Development Study

Out-Of-Home Care Health Pathways Program

LINKS Trauma Healing Service

Apps, websites and more resources

A number of resources have been developed to support young people experiencing risk of suicide or self-harming. Apps are a particularly accessible and useful resource for young people experiencing isolation and/or stigmatisation – two of the greatest risk factors contributing to suicide and self-harm.

Beyond Now
Convenient and confidential, the Beyond Now app puts the person’s safety plan in their pocket so they can access and edit it at any time. They can also email a copy to trusted friends, family, or their health professional so they can support them when they are experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Black Dog Institute
A podcast exploring the context and meanings that surround youth self-harm as well as shared strategies that can assist young people to move safely through adolescence.

Calm Harm
The Calm Harm app provides tasks that help people to resist or manage the urge to self-harm. Users can add their own tasks too. It is completely private and password protected.

Conversations Matter
Conversations Matter have developed a range of resources that outline core principles to support practitioners with conversations about suicide and self-harm with CALD individuals and communities focused on prevention, intervention, and postvention.

Headspace is a national youth mental health foundation providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25 year olds. Headspace can help young people with mental health, physical health, alcohol and other drug services, and work and study support.

iBobbly is a trial of the world’s first suicide prevention app designed especially for use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on mobile phones or tablet devices.  iBobbly (a name derived from a Kimberley greeting)delivers culturally safe therapy. Based on therapies shown to reduce suicidal thoughts, it draws heavily on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander metaphors, images and stories from local Aboriginal artists and performers. = Once the app is downloaded it does not need ongoing internet access. The app is password protected, maintaining confidentiality if the technology is shared with others.

Lifeline is a 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention service for Australian’s experiencing emotional distress. Lifeline is aimed at empowering Australians to be suicide–safe through connection, compassion and hope.

Standby: Support after suicide
StandBy is now recognised as Australia’s leading suicide postvention program dedicated to assisting people and communities bereaved or impacted by suicide. A recent independent evaluation of the program found that StandBy helps to significantly lower the risk of suicidality, mental health concerns, and social isolation following a loss of a loved one.

The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP)
Australia's leading body on Indigenous suicide. The Centre promotes evidence-based suicide prevention practice that empowers individuals, families, communities and culture.

Transcultural Mental Health Centre
The Transcultural Mental Health Centre developed a Family Health Kit with information on suicide prevention, translated into multiple languages. Access the different languages here, and more languages here.

Yarn Safe
Headspace Yarn Safe provides information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are feeling sad, tired, stressed, and angry, encouraging individuals to talk when they are going through a hard time. Through the Headspace Yarn Safe website, users can access information and support on mental health and wellbeing, stress and pressure, relationships, alcohol and drugs, and Yarn Safe stories.

For DCJ staff:
A new chapter of the Mental health practice kit on working with children and young people at risk of suicide and self-harm is now available on Casework Practice.

The chapter was adapted from the new Guidelines for Risk Assessment and Management of Suicide and Self-Harm developed by DCJs Psychological and Specialist Services. It includes insights from the Child Deaths Annual 2020 Report, which focused on children who died in circumstances of suicide or suspected suicide.

Looking after yourself
Our work is highly emotive, particularly when working with children at risk of suicide and self-harm. It can be hard to help others if you feel overwhelmed and unsupported. It is important these emotions do not paralyse or hinder your response to young people at risk of significant harm.

If you have any concerns, connect with your manager and see other ways here to get help when responding to suicide and self-harm.

Questions or Comments?

A recording of the research-related presentations, slides and other resources will be available here within one week following the webinar.

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Last updated: 09 Feb 2024