Recovery approaches with adolescents and young people are focused on prevention, early intervention, building resilience and enhancing wellbeing. They also support transition through developmental phases and where necessary, a return to expected developmental trajectories.

Young people risk identifying strongly with an illness identity at a time when they are discovering and shaping their sense of self. How and where young people seek help for mental health issues—and the services they are prepared to use—changes as they mature (Rickwood D, 2006). The transition to adult mental health services can be stressful.

Implications for practice

  • Support young people to:
    • maximise learning opportunities as they increasingly assume control over decision making
    • connect with their inherent resilience, capacities and possibilities for the future
    • transition through developmental phases and, where necessary, to return to expected developmental trajectories.
  • Encourage young people in:
    • positive health behaviours that promote mental health
    • early help-seeking behaviour.

Implications for service delivery

  • Services should comprise a comprehensive mix of clinical and support services linked with services for younger age groups and spanning across adolescence and emerging adulthood7. A primary focus is on family and peer relationships and education and vocational needs.
  • An integrated approach across mental health and allied service systems8 is required to provide flexible and individually tailored connections between child, adolescent, and adult-focused services, both hospital-based and in the community.
  • Service responses are coordinated with other youth agencies and other specialist mental health services to ensure continuity of care across the service system and during developmental transition points. A 'no wrong door' approach is emphasised and maintained. Headspace and early psychosis prevention and intervention services are recent service developments that are based on these principles.
  • Mechanisms for joint planning, developing and coordinating services include young people in ways that match their developing maturity.


7 Services provided include vocational counselling, illness management skills, training in stigma countering and disclosure strategies and context-specific social, personal and relationship skills (Rickwood D, 2006; Lloyd & Waghorn 2007). Also important are approaches that focus on physical activity as a vehicle to addressing emotional and psychological issues: sport, fitness, exercise, adventure training, art, dance, drama, music and other performing arts and recreational activities. These approaches might be provided through partnerships with community organisations, clubs and groups.
8 Primary health, mental health, alcohol and drug services, education, employment and training, parental support, recreation, physical activity, art and performing arts and community support services.