Social inclusion, intersectionality, and profiles of vulnerable groups of young people seeking mental health support

K. Filia, J. Menssink, C. X. Gao, D. Rickwood, M. Hamilton, S. E. Hetrick, A. G. Parker, H. Herrman, I. Hickie, S. Sharmin, P. D. McGorry, S. M. Cotton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background: headspace centres provide enhanced primary mental healthcare for young people. A priority is to provide services for all young people irrespective of a range of social disadvantages or social exclusion. The aims of this study were to: (i) delineate extent of social inclusion across domains of housing, studying/employment, functioning, alcohol, and other drug use; and (ii) map profiles of young people deemed vulnerable to experiencing additional barriers to accessing services based on their social inclusion domains (e.g., those living in unstable housing, not in employment/education, and/or experiencing intersecting or multiple forms of disadvantage or difficulties), including detailing their clinical characteristics. Methods: Young people were recruited from five headspace centres. Data relevant to social inclusion were examined. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to determine overlap between vulnerable groups, functional, social, clinical, and behavioural factors. Results: 1107 young people participated, aged 12–25 years (M = 18.1 years, SD = 3.3), most living in stable housing (96.5%) and engaged in studying/employment (84.8%). Specific vulnerabilities were evident in young people with NEET status (15.2%); in unstable accommodation (3.5%); of culturally diverse backgrounds (CALD) (12.2%); living in regional areas (36.1%); and identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, and asexual plus (LGBTIQA+; 28.2%). Higher levels of distress, substance use, functional impairment, and lower social support were reported by those who were NEET and/or in unstable housing. LGBTIQA+ status was associated with high distress, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation. Conclusions: Most participants reported good social support, stable housing, and engagement in work or education. Those deemed vulnerable were likely to experience social exclusion across multiple domains and reported more mental health problems. The co-occurrence of mental ill-health and social exclusion highlights the importance of integrated mental healthcare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


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