Intervention program helps young people overcome family trauma

The mi.spot program equips affected youth aged between 18-25 with coping mechanisms and strategies to take positive steps as role models in their adulthood.

One in five young Australians has a parent with mental illness or a substance abuse problem – a situation that can take a toll on their own mental health.

With most services focused on helping their parents, Monash University has developed a revolutionary intervention program now being trialled with at-risk young Victorians.

Led by Director of Professional Psychology Programs in Education, Associate Professor Andrea Reupert, the mi.spot (mental illness: supportive, preventative, online, targeted) program equips affected youth aged between 18-25 with coping mechanisms and strategies to take positive steps as role models in their adulthood.

The six-week online program provides one-on-one counselling, opportunities for interaction and weekly facilitated sessions on a range of topics, including managing relationships, understanding about mental illness, when to ask for help, and how their parents’ illness might impact on their mental health.

Delivered through the Krongold Clinic at Monash University, more than 100 young adults across Victoria have taken part in the program so far with many more set to join later this year. The University’s Master of Psychology students deliver the program under Associate Professor Reupert’s supervision.

Results so far have shown a greater connection between young adults and their peers, as well as improved knowledge of how to deal with family challenges and where to seek professional help.

“In Australia, one in five young people have a parent with a mental illness/substance use problem. As services focus on their parents, the needs of young adults are overlooked and they are at significant risk of acquiring their own mental health issues,” she said.

“This is a tricky period of their lives. Young adults are managing new roles and responsibilities that can put an additional strain on their relationship with their parents. It’s also the time when serious mental illness starts to kick in so we need to work with young people at risk.”

Associate Professor Reupert is hoping extend the reach of the mi.spot program to people living in rural and remote areas, who are at most risk, with further agency support.

The Krongold Clinic

Provides psychology services across the lifespan to children, adolescents, adults and families in the community. This includes children and adolescents with learning and behavioural difficulties and various clinical conditions, such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit disorder, anxiety and sleep difficulties.

Krongold also provides assessments to identify potentially gifted and talented student as well as affordable counselling and psychotherapy service to individuals, couples, parents and groups.