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New Model of Care for Youth Mental Health Services

Sonder Introduces New Model of Care for Youth Mental Health Services in Adelaide’s North


As needs change, so does access to appropriate services

Young people in Adelaide’s northern suburbs can access a range of mental health services at Sonder Edinburgh North. Sonder via its headspace Edinburgh North and emerge programs  provide information, support and youth-friendly services to young people, aged 12-25 years.

Services are designed to holistically improve young people’s health and wellbeing, covering four core areas: mental health and wellbeing, physical and sexual health, work and study support, and alcohol and other drug services.

Young people experiencing low to moderate mental health concerns such as mild depression and anxiety can access support through headspace Edinburgh North. Last year, Sonder also successfully introduced a new program to support young people with complex and severe mental health difficulties that are significantly impacting on their life. The emerge program, located at Edinburgh North and Onkaparinga is designed to be a ‘step-up’ service from headspace for young people who require extra levels of support and care.

Steven Wright, Youth Services Manager at Sonder explains through the emerge program, young people can access youth-friendly counselling, care coordination and specific support around functional recovery and goal setting.

“They also have access to Peer Support Workers who have lived experience of mental health concerns and can work alongside them to achieve goals and share tools and coping strategies that have personally worked for them.”


New Service Model of Care

2020 represents a significant shift in the service delivery model for youth services at Sonder & headspace Edinburgh North. This shift involves the development of a stepped care model for youth that addresses the low, moderate and complex & severe mental health needs of young people.

The young person’s journey at Sonder and headspace Edinburgh North commences with triage into one of the three available service streams: low, moderate and complex/severe. Each stream offers youth-friendly counselling suitable to the intensity of treatment required for the young person. Young people are provided with care that is appropriate to their mental health needs, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ model.

Young people experiencing mild mental health difficulties will be offered services under the ‘Low Intensity Stream’ that are appropriate to their mental health concerns. This could consists of e-tools, psychoeducation groups and solution focused therapy (1-3 appointments) with Mental Health Youth Workers.

Those experiencing moderate mental health difficulties, requiring greater levels of support will be allocated to the ‘Moderate Intensity Stream’ and will receive up to 6-12 appointments of structured psychological therapy with a Mental Health Clinician. Young people in this stream will also have access to group-based supports.

Young people experiencing complex and severe mental health difficulties will receive an open-ended number of appointments of structured psychological therapy, in addition to care coordination, psychiatry, peer support with a youth and family focus, and group-based supports.

“It is anticipated that this new service model will see approximately 480 additional young people accessing Sonder’s youth services each year,” Mr Wright says.


Service Access

To access Sonder’s youth mental health services, young people are encouraged to visit their regular GP or complete a community referral form.

For further information, contact Sonder on (08) 8209 0700 and see our Mental Health programs for teens & young people.


headspace centres across the Adelaide metropolitan region and the emerge program are supported by funding from the Adelaide PHN through the Australian Government’s PHN program. headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.