Hon Stephen Dawson MLC

Hon Stephen Dawson MLC

Minister for Emergency Services; Innovation and the Digital Economy; Medical Research; Volunteering

Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson BA MLA

Hon Amber-Jade Sanderson BA MLA

Minister for Health; Mental Health

    Innovation investment to build resilient children and confident young people

    23/06/2022 8:00 AM
    • McGowan Government prioritising mental health solutions
    • Promoting mental health innovation so children and young adults can thrive
    • New apps and initiatives to bridge the gap of mental health support 

    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.


    The Innovation Challenge 2021: Child and Youth Mental Health is supporting some of WA's brightest minds to find new ways to meet the needs of children and young people experiencing poor mental health.


    Competing for up to $1.5 million to fully develop and implement their concepts, 11 applicants have been awarded up to $50,000 each to undertake feasibility studies or build prototypes to progress their ideas. The 11 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.


    The Innovation Challenge program of the WA Future Health Research and Innovation (FHRI) Fund provides a secure source of funding to drive health and medical research, innovation and commercialisation.


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


    Comments attributed to Medical Research Minister Stephen Dawson:


    "The McGowan Government is pleased our Future Health Research and Innovation Fund will deliver this program.


    "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.


    "There are some exciting initiatives that have been presented as progressive solutions for child and youth mental health.


    "The adoption of artificial intelligence and technology is going from strength to strength in health care, and early screening and detection is key in managing mental health."


    Comments attributed to Mental Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:


    "The McGowan Government is committed to improving mental health outcomes for children and young adults.


    "Early childhood 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.


    "Early interventions have the potential to change the trajectory of a young person's life and I congratulate all recipients on their innovative apps."


    Medical Research Minister's office - 6552 5800

    Mental Health Minister's office - 6552 5900


    Gene S - Innovation lead: Dr Svetlana Baltic

    Youth Mind Kit is a genetic test to improve the mental health of young people by better medication management. The test will enable doctors to prescribe the right medication at the right dose every time when treating a child/youth with a mental health condition.


    Community Champions - Innovation lead: Michael Black

    Community Champions is artificial intelligence for personal resilience. This research team is working with communities and families to co-design tools and processes to promote inclusion, as well as learn positive ways to express emotions and explore identity formation.


    Growing Minds Australia - Innovation lead: Mark Dadds

    A service model that improves access and engagement with evidence-based interventions, this project will train clinicians in evidence-based interventions and introduce outcome monitoring that is transparent and empowering for families. This project is based on the highly successful UK model, Improving Access to Psychological Therapies.


    Identify and Act - Innovation lead: Dr Amy Finlay-Jones

    Identify and Act is 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.


    Early identification and intervention for children with ADHD - Innovation lead: Dr Rona Kelly

    Estimates suggest that more than 7 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. This 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.


    Closing the gap on Aboriginal child and youth mental health with ear disease and hearing-loss - Innovation lead: Professor Christopher Lawrence

    There are currently no co-designed, culturally sensitive digital health solutions providing hearing and mental health services in Aboriginal communities in WA. This project will leverage existing digital health technologies to target Aboriginal young people with ear disease and hearing loss to support their mental health and wellbeing. Through co-design and consultation, this project will support and improve access and reach of mental health services to Aboriginal children and young people with hearing loss.


    Youth Safe-Haven Café - Innovation lead: Associate Professor Ashleigh Lin

    The Peel region has a youth suicide rate more than double the national average and an alternative model of care is needed. Youth Safe Haven-Café is an alternative to the emergency department for youth at risk of suicide in the Peel region. The approach provides temporary practical and emotional peer support in a non-clinical, non-stigmatising setting. The pilot café will be located in the Peel Health Hub and will be co-designed with young people and their carers.


    An artificial therapist to support youth mental health - Innovation lead: Professor Warren Mansell

    This project involves a smartphone app called Manage Your Life, which will deliver self-help for teenagers through real-time conversations. The project aims to support young people and guide them through issues by sharing coping techniques, and encourage users to express, explore and resolve their problems.


    A mental health care app - Innovation Lead: Dr Louise Metcalf

    This project features an artificial intelligence-enhanced app and aims to improve outcomes for children with anxiety by providing access to a collaborative, measurement-based, dynamic care system for children with diverse backgrounds. The idea is to co-create a counsellor/therapist portal that can be adapted to diverse communities.


    My Vital Cycles app - Innovation lead: Felicity Roux

    Currently there are no apps for young people to track their menstrual cycle and their mental health in one place. My Vital Cycles app will link mental health and menstruation. Previous research by the team has indicated a demand for a mental and menstrual health app which is supported by teachers and school health teams. Following an established and effective protocol, this team will actively engage girls, schools, and specialists in mental and menstrual health to inform the development of the My Vital Cycles app.


    A digital solution for improving youth mental health and wellbeing - Innovation lead: Dr Kevin Wernli

    The platform digitally connects young people with their health professionals and support team to create a collaborative, person-centred care environment. It also provides individualised evidence-based resources, health tracking, goal­setting, and peer-support capabilities to complement their health-professionals' service.