Research assists youth at risk


HELPING young people learn skills to deal with crisis, reduce damaging behaviour and improve relationships is the aim of a research project funded by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation.
The $17,000 grant will enable an audit of a long-running youth mental health program that aims to prevent self-harm and suicide.
Dr Richard Lakeman, Adolescent Mental Health Nurse Navigator at Cairns Hospital, said in 12 months, 170 adolescents who had self-harmed presented three or more times to Cairns Hospital Emergency Department. Since the program started in May 2017, 30 individuals have progressed to assessment, 20 being engaged in either weekly pre-commitment therapy or the full program (of individual therapy, skills group attendance and telephone coaching) and two weekly skills groups being run in tandem.
He won the grant after explaining the importance of the Youth Empowerment Towards Independence (YETI) program.
Dr Lakeman said the Youth Empowerment Towards Independence (YETI) program has been running for eight years and the grant would enable researchers to verify what they already suspect – that it is making a difference to the lives of young people. “This research grant will also enable them to continue the program and evaluate its effectiveness,” Dr Lakeman said.
Foundation chairman Dr Ken Chapman said the mental health of young people was of vital concern to everyone in the community.
“Anecdotal evidence indicates this program is working, but this research will hopefully verify that, with the aim of continuing its good work,” Dr Chapman said.
“The Foundation is working to help move Cairns Hospital towards becoming a tertiary hospital and we are pleased to announce that in future we will be doubling our research grant budget each year,” he said.
“From next year, the Foundation will offer two research grants of $25,000 and a number of small grants to a total of $150,000 each year. We know it is important to keep research happening in the tropics and we can provide a conduit for some life-saving research to occur,” Dr Chapman said.
Foundation board member and JCU Professor in Medicine, Prof John McBride said since 2009 the Foundation has provided more than $213,000 to research in the Far North. “That includes last year’s box jellyfish venom project, and smaller grants for gestational diabetes, evacuation response, quantifying cannabis use in Indigenous people and exploring how facial information is processed by young people,” Prof McBride said.

Photo: Foundation chairman Dr Ken Chapman, board member Professor John McBride, YETI psychologist Stacey Anderson and Dr Richard Lakeman.


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