Research report

Headspace evaluation report

30 Nov 2009


headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, was launched in 2006 as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to the Youth Mental Health Initiative (YMHI). It was established to promote and facilitate improvements in the mental health, social wellbeing and economic participation of young people aged 12-25 years-old. headspace aims to achieve this by:

• Providing holistic services via Communities of Youth Services (CYSs);
• Increasing community capacity to identify young people with mental ill-health and related problems as early as possible;
• Encouraging help-seeking by young people and their carers;
• Providing evidence-based, quality services delivered by well-trained professionals; and
• Impacting on service reform in terms of service coordination and integration within communities and at an Australian and state/territory government level.

In 2008, the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) was contracted by headspace and the University of Melbourne (UoM) to conduct the first independent evaluation of headspace. The evaluation is a longitudinal, mixed methods research project, established to examine the achievements, limitations and future directions of the headspace program. The evaluation draws on qualitative and quantitative data from primary and secondary sources collected over two waves. The main methods used were: 

• Policy, procedure and documentary analysis; 
• Interviews and surveys with key stakeholders, including CYS staff, local service providers, headspace training participants, staff from the national headspace components, government representatives, carers and young people using CYS services; 
• Service coordination study;
• Sustainability instrument; 
• Secondary analysis of existing datasets, including the headspace dataset, medicare data, the National Youth and Parent Community Survey (NYPCS) and the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (SMHWB);
• Meta-analysis.

Authors: Kristy Muir, Abigail Powell, Roger Patulny, Saul Flaxman, Shannon McDermott, Ioana Oprea, Sandra Gendera, Joaquin Vespignani, Tomasz Sitek David Abello and Ilan Katz.

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