Dedicated youth mental health unit announced for Cairns Hospital

  • The Miles Government will invest more than $24 million to deliver a new eight-bed adolescent mental health unit.
  • The unit will be funded through the government’s Mental Health Levy.
  • Part of the investment will go towards refurbishing the existing adult mental health ward, which will be vacated after the new $70 million facility begins admitting patients at the beginning of 2025.
  • The youth mental health beds are expected to be available from later in 2025.
  • The announcement comes the same day as the Premier and Health Minister announce a record budget of $1.44 billion for the Cairns and Hinterland HHS in the upcoming Queensland budget.

The Miles Labor Government will invest $24 million for a dedicated adolescent mental health unit at Cairns Hospital, the first of its kind in Far North Queensland.

To make room for the new unit, the existing adult inpatient ward on the ground floor of A-Block will be refurbished with 8 beds, to allow for new age-appropriate adolescent mental health care and treatment.

The funding announcement includes up to $19 million to undertake the refurbishment of the existing space.

The new ward will provide direct acute support for young people struggling with mental health issues, ensuring they receive timely and comprehensive care in a safe and supportive environment.

An expected 24 additional staff will help to care for children and adolescents once the new facility begins treating patients – including doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and dietitians.

Construction on the new 53-bed adult mental health unit is nearing completion, with practical completion expected later this year ahead of opening to patients from the beginning of 2025.

This will then make way for the new youth mental health beds to begin caring for patients later in 2025.

The new unit will be funded through the government’s nation-leading Mental Health Levy, which has created a sustainable funding source for mental healthcare since it began collecting revenue on 1 January 2023.

Despite the positive impact the Mental Health Levy is making, including funding the largest ever mental health investment in Queensland’s history, the LNP Opposition continue to criticise the levy.

As stated by Premier Steven Miles:

“Mental health, particularly of our young people, is so important.

“It’s why my government is proud to be delivering better services where they are most needed, like here in Cairns.

“This $24 million investment will deliver a new eight bed mental health unit at the Cairns Hospital – a first for Cairns and the Far North Region.

“Only a Labor Government will deliver these important treatment spaces, because we are listening and delivering what matters for Queensland.”

As stated by Health Minister Shannon Fentiman:

“Today’s announcement of a dedicated eight-bed youth mental health unit at Cairns Hospital will make an enormous difference to the lives of young people in the Far North.

“We have listened to the community’s needs, and we are acting.

“The new unit will complement existing community-based services, including the Youth Step Up Step Down residential facility, Assertive Mobile Youth Outreach Service and Evolve Therapeutic Services.

“I’m proud to be part of a government that is taking mental healthcare seriously and working to provide long-term, sustainable funding to mental health services.

“Cairns locals deserve access to high quality healthcare closer to home, and that includes mental healthcare for some of our most vulnerable kids.”

As stated by Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive, Leena Singh:

“The new unit is a proactive step towards addressing the growing need for mental health services in the Far North.

“It will mean we can better care for young people experiencing eating disorders, anxiety, and depressing or psychotic thoughts.

“This initiative reflects our commitment to prioritising the mental well-being of young people in our region, and we are confident that it will have a positive impact on the overall mental health landscape of the Far North.”

“It will provide greater local access to acute mental health services for young people and allow families to support their child’s progress without needing to travel out of the region.”

As stated by CHHHS Service Director of Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Wade Norrie:

“This new unit underscores our dedication to meeting the evolving mental health needs of the community and providing high-quality care for all individuals, regardless of their age or background.

“We expect there will be 24 additional staff helping to care for adolescents once the inpatient facility is completed.

“We are confident that this new ward will make a meaningful difference in the lives of young individuals struggling with mental health issues and will provide comprehensive and compassionate care.”

/Public Release. View in full here.