Mental health

Speech Pathology Australia (the Association) supports speech pathologists working in the area of mental health. The majority of people living with a mental illness experience significant communication difficulties, and many have difficulty swallowing food or drinking safely.

Speech pathologists enhance the health, wellbeing and participation of people with mental health conditions through prevention, early detection and treatment of communication and swallowing disorders.

Speech, language and communication needs and mental health

There is a strong relationship between speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and mental health.

SLCN can also affect an individual’s engagement in mental health treatment and their outcomes. Evidence suggests early identification and targeted intervention for both SLCN and mental health problems can have a positive effect on an individual's participation in mental health treatment, and on their functional outcomes and wellbeing.

This is the logo of Orygen, formerly Orygen Youth Health. It is orange writing against a white background. The letters appear on two lines in a handwritten font.Orygen collaboration

Speech Pathology Australia has collaborated with Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, to produce resources for clinicians working in mental health to help identify and support the speech, language and communication needs of the young people accessing their services.

Webinars

Three webinars, each presented by Association members with extensive experience working in child and youth mental health services:

  1. Communication expectations across different settings

Presented by speech pathologists Mary Fleming and Suzanne Lim, this webinar is suitable for anyone working with adolescents and young people in education, employment and support service settings (e.g. housing, health, drug and alcohol, mental health, or peer support).

The presenters introduce a visual metaphor to explore how communication expectations change according to the setting in which a young person participates. They examine the fictional experience of a young woman with seemingly reasonable everyday communication skills, who struggles in her post-secondary studies, part-time work and job seeking.

View additional resources related to this webinar. (There are associated handouts associated with this webinar – available on the Orygen website).

  1. Understanding speech, language and communication needs in mental health

Presented by speech pathologists Frances Saunders and Liz Morkham, this webinar is for professionals providing mental health care for adolescents and young people.

Viewers will develop an understanding of common speech, language and communication difficulties in young people attending youth mental health services. The webinar will present an overview of how to recognise speech, language and communication needs and the impact of these needs on individuals and mental health interventions.

  1. Strategies for working with young people with additional speech, language and communication needs

Presented by speech pathologists Chantele Edlington and Laura Caire, this webinar will help mental health clinicians to feel more confident and equipped to work with clients presenting with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). The webinar focusses on utilisation and implementation of strategies, particularly visual aids, to increase efficacy of clinical work and clients’ engagement in therapy.

Additional resources

Speech, language and communication needs in youth mental health This graphic is associated with the hyperlink that precedes it and indicates the document is in PDF.
This clinical practice resource is to help mental health clinicians become more communication-aware in your practice, find further resources and points of referral, and share up-to-date clinical information at your setting about speech, language and communication needs.

Reference guide: how to support young people with speech, language and communication needs This graphic is associated with the hyperlink that precedes it and indicates the document is in PDF.
The reference guide provides strategies and tips that mental health clinicians can use to support young people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) to navigate mental health settings.

Other useful materials

Speech Pathology in Mental Health fact sheet (and Infographic)

Speech Pathology in Mental Health Position Statement