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March 2011

Young man with microphone jpeg
Chris Stefano’s life has changed for the better.

Solving the youth mental health puzzle

Chris Stefano, 20, credits Barwon Health’s youth-specific, seven-day-a-week mental health triage service for changing his life.

It is part of Barwon Health Regional Youth Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Program, based at the JIGSAW Young Person’s Health Service for 16 to 25-year-olds.

In July 2010, Chris’ mother made a tearful phone call, desperately seeking help for her son.

He seemed to be fading before her eyes, displaying manic symptoms.

The symptoms capped off months of depression and were later diagnosed as indicators of bipolar disorder.

Chris was put in touch with the JIGSAW triage service and assigned a case manager, Mark Moran.

Taking into consideration the family’s reluctance for hospitalisation, a home management plan was developed by the consultant psychiatrist, Mr Moran and Chris’ family.

‘Chris’ mum was pretty grateful we helped get her son back,’ Mr Moran said.

‘She was comfortable with the care received.

‘The family had to be fullysupportive for the home care to work, as it requires constant family support.’

Before the onset of bipolar disorder, Chris, a budding singer and keen musician, was studying psychology full-time at uni.

He was also working parttime.

‘I’ve had to reassess my goals because I have to align them with what’s healthy for me.

‘JIGSAW has helped change my life for the better.

‘Without the service, I wouldn’t be as stable as I am today.

‘It has been a big thing.

‘I now know I have to live a less stressful life to avoid having a breakdown.’

Chris recently got a part-time retail job and plans to take up study again.

‘I’m working to get my head around things, let things pan out.’

The triage program is a component of the wider service of mental health and drug and alcohol care JIGSAW provides, said program manager Melissa O’Shea.

‘Our evidence indicates young people prefer to access services that are youth-focused and youth-friendly,’ she said.

•             For further information about JIGSAW telephone 5246 8216.