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Youth mental health: we know where we are and we can now say where we need to go next


  • Declaration of conflict of interest: Ian B. Hickie is the Director of headspace, National Youth Mental Health Foundation.

Prof Ian B. Hickie, Brain and Mind Research Institute, The University of Sydney, 100 Mallett Street, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia. Email:


Aim: To provide an overview of the state of knowledge relevant to the development of youth-specific mental health initiatives.

Methods: A selective review of data, particularly from Australian community and health service studies, that are relevant to the decisions faced by those who fund and organize health services internationally.

Results: It is possible to reach consensus on key issues such as the current state of evidence, myths that need to be challenged, areas of genuine uncertainty, priorities for future reform, and five and ten year goals and targets.

Conclusions: There is considerable convergence of evidence from epidemiology, clinical and basic neuroscience, population health and health service evaluation that supports an urgent new investment in development and evaluation of youth mental health initiatives.