Early treatment for mental health disorders could be safer

EARLY intervention into youth with possible mental health disorders could provide "safer", "more effective, and more acceptable" outcomes.

Headspace co-founder and 2012 Australian of the Year Professor Patrick McGorry, writing for the Australian Early Psychosis Research Network published today, said early intervention strategies for those with potentially serious mental health disorders were increasingly useful.

"By shifting the focus of the health sector to intervention during the early and less specific stages of mental disorders, substantial conceptual and practical progress has been made", he wrote.

"Early intervention has demonstrated potential to reduce the effects of illness on age-specific developmental and occupational goals. It can also improve social and economic participation and productivity."

Professor McGorry wrote the Federal Government's plans to expand early psychosis programs represented an "unprecedented opportunity" for further research and innovation.

"There is also a need for health services research to determine not only which interventions are effective and cost-effective, but in what context", he wrote.

"We have an opportunity to develop a new culture in mental health that has the capacity for large-scale clinical trials with embedded biomarker research, on a par with what exists elsewhere in medicine.

"Federal government reform and investment gives Australia a unique competitive advantage in this. We do not intend to let this opportunity pass."