Mental Health

  • What is RCH Mental Health?

    The RCH Mental Health is a service that provides wellbeing and mental health supports for young people aged 0-18 years that are experiencing serious mental health and wellbeing concerns. 

    We provide a range of hospital inpatient, specialist, consultation and community mental health services for infants, children and young people. Our teams are generally interdisciplinary (a mix of mental health care professionals of different backgrounds). They have extensive child, youth and family expertise. We assess young people and offer a range of ways to help in recovery from a mental illness.

    Our mental health professionals include:

    • Nurses
    • Occupational Therapists
    • Paediatricians (doctors)
    • Psychiatrists (doctors)
    • Psychologists
    • Social Workers
    • Speech Pathologists.
    • Family Therapists
    • Peer Workers

    Choice, partnership and participation by children, young people and their families/carers are central to how we work. In addition to our direct clinical work, we support organisations and professionals working with infants, children, young people and families through:

    • Providing information and advice on mental health issues and resources
    • Working closely with our hospital and community based services and community partners to improve how we work together to help young people.

    For more information see our brochure What to expect at our mental health service in English, an Arabic translation of this brochure, and a Vietnamese translation of this brochure 

    Mental Health and Wellbeing Act (2022)

    The new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act commences from 1 of September 2023. 

    About the Act  

    Mental Health in Victoria is going through an exciting change. In Victoria, there was a Royal Commission into the Mental Health System which recommended the establishment of a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act, replacing the Mental Health Act (2014). The new Act has an increased focus on human rights and emphasises the importance of supported decision-making and rights, and rights and recognition of the valuable support of family and carers. 

    The RCH, Melbourne, is a designated mental health facility and is regulated under the Act.

    We look forward to collaboratively working together with young people and their families, carers and support people in making their experience a positive and therapeutic step in their recovery journey.

    The Act is based on 13 principles that all mental health and wellbeing providers must abide by:

    • Dignity and autonomy principle
    • Diversity of care principle
    • Least restrictive principle
    • Supported decision making principle
    • Family and carers principle
    • Lived experience principle
    • Health needs principle
    • Dignity of risk principle
    • Wellbeing of young people principle
    • Diversity principle
    • Gender safety principle
    • Cultural safety principle
    • Wellbeing of dependents principle 

    Legal aspects  

    To read the Act and Regulations click the following links:

    About the orders 

    Flowcharts created by the Department of Health:

    Young person and parent/carer/support person information

    Link to 'Statement of Rights'. A paper copy of which must be provided to the consumer admitted to the RCH for mental health related reasons, as well as their and family/carer/support people.

    Training, queries and feedback

    Resources used for training are available through the links below:

    Guidelines and protocols by the Department of Health and Office of the Chief Psychiatrist

    Other useful links and resources 

      Please contact us if you:

      • Have specific questions
      • Would like to know about what training support we can provide


      Our services are for young people aged 0-11 years (until the young person's twelfth birthday) and their families who live in the Western and Northwestern metropolitan regions of Melbourne.

      From 8.30am on 1 July 2024 the service delivery arrangements for 12–14-year-old mental health consumers for community mental health and wellbeing services will change.

      In keeping with a recommendation by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) will deliver community mental health services to children aged 0-11 years and the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s (RMH) Orygen Specialist Program (OSP) will deliver community mental health services for young people aged 12–25 years.

      It is important to note that RCH’s Banksia Ward (Mental Health Inpatient Unit) will continue to see consumers aged 13-18 years old. RCH’s Emergency Department will continue to be a 0 - 18-year-old service.

      For further questions, please reference our Frequently Asked Questions document below that provides answers to any questions you may have regarding the transition of 12–14-year-olds from the RCH to RMH (OSP).

      If you have any further questions about eligibility, you can contact the RCH Intake Triage team on 1800 44 55 11 or alternatively if you are ringing about a young person aged 12-25 years, please contact the Orygen Specialist Program Youth Access Team on 1800 888 320. 

      We provide assessment and treatment for infants, children and young people with the most severe and complex mental illnesses. There are a range of other places you can access for mild to moderate difficulties and illnesses. See our community resources sections for further information for infants, children, young people and parents and carers. We also have a range of statewide services that young people up to the age of 18 can access. If you have any questions about eligibility, please contact IRCH's Intake (Triage) Team. 

      A general rule is if you need our help:

      • our hospital-based services (at the Emergency Department; on a ward; or as regular psychology outpatient where you may or may not have another medical condition) are available for children who live anywhere in Victoria, Tasmania or southern New South Wales
      • our outpatient services are generally available to children aged 0 - 11 years who live in our metropolitan areas listed above.

      Here is a link from the Victorian Department of Health that tells you whether a child lives in a suburb to which we generally provide community-based outpatient services.

      Our services are generally free of charge or Medicare bulk billed. For inpatient care you may be asked about the option of using your private health insurance at no cost to you.

      If you are unsure about whether your child would benefit from mental health care or our service, you may wish to talk to someone about whether a referral is appropriate. Please see details of how to contact us. Self-referrals (by the young person or their parent or carer) can be made, although generally it is good to have seen your local doctor (a GP), specialist doctor (e.g. Paediatrician) or other health care worker or school support staff.

      FAQs: Change of Service delivery for 12-14-year-old mental health consumers at the RCH

      The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) provides an inpatient service for adolescents aged 13–18 years however, our RCH Mental Health Service currently provides community programs for consumers aged 0-15 years. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended changes so that RCH delivers community mental health and wellbeing services to children up to the age of 12 and the RMH (Orygen Specialist Program) to deliver community mental health and wellbeing services for young people aged 12–25 years.

      Therefore, from 8.30am on 1 July 2024, the RCH Mental Health Service will transfer the service delivery arrangements for young people aged 12–14-years-old to the RMH (OSP). The transition will impact young people aged 12–14 years old and their families who live in the Western and North West metropolitan regions of Melbourne seeking support for a complex mental health challenge. The transition will affect the following teams within the RCH Mental Health Service:

      • RCH Mental Health Intake team

      • Three community teams (Travancore, St Albans and Hoppers Crossing)

      • Specialist Autism Team (external referrals only)

      • Child and Youth HOPE team

      The RCH and the RMH (OSP) will be working together to ensure service continuity for children and young people, their families, carers and supporters. It will be a priority between the two services that there is a smooth transition of mental health services for young people and that consumers, families and carers will be involved in any decision making regarding their treatment and care.

      Will the transfer of service delivery arrangement for 12–14-year-olds be across the entire RCH Mental Health Service?

      No, the transfer of service delivery arrangements for 12–14-year-olds only relates to the RCH’s Mental Health Service’s Intake team, three community teams (Travancore, Sunshine and Hoppers Crossing), Child and Youth HOPE and Special Autism Team (external referrals only).

      Will Banksia (the RCH mental health inpatient unit) be affected by the transition of 12–14-year-olds from the RCH to the RMH (OSP)?

      The RCH will continue to provide the same mental health services that were offered before the transition however, the services will be provided to 0–11-year-old children. Other teams, such as Banksia, Clinical Psychology, Developmental Neuropsychiatry, Wadja, Dual Disability and Neurodevelopment, will continue to provide services to young people aged 0–18 years for a range of psychological disorders.

      How will the RCH Mental Health Service model of care change following the transition?

      The RCH model of care will not change as teams already provide services for 0–11-year-olds. Following the transition, RCH Mental Health Service staff will undertake assessments, triage and interventions focused on a younger cohort. The RCH staff are regularly provided with ongoing training to ensure they are well supported to provide the highest level of care.

      If my 12–14-year-old child is already receiving interventions and specialist support at the RCH Mental Health Service, will they automatically be transferred over to the RMH (OSP) from 1 July 2024 for ongoing care?

      Young people aged 12–14 years who are currently receiving care at the RCH may prefer to remain with the RCH to complete their assessment or treatment until November 2024. If further interventions and specialist support are required after November 2024, 12-14 year old consumers can be referred to RMH (OSP) on a case-by-case basis. Each family's and young person's needs and preferences are unique, and there may be scenarios where an earlier referral to RMH (OSP) or referrals to other services are helpful. We encourage you to discuss this further with your child's treating team at the RCH.

      How will the transition to becoming a 0–11-year-old service impact the waiting times for my child that is currently waiting to be helped by the RCH Mental Health Service?

      We anticipate that the change to becoming a 0–11-year-old service will result in shorter waiting times and allow the RCH Mental Health Service to better support young children and their families.

      What if my 12–14-year-old child is discharged from the RCH before 1 July 2024 and requires further treatment a few months later?

      After 1 July 2024, any 12–14-year-old formally receiving care at the RCH who is re-referred to RCH will be referred to the RMH (OSP). The RCH will provide a warm and detailed handover of the young person’s treatment/assessment to the new clinician to limit the amount of information that you and your family will have to repeat, making transition as smooth as possible.

      What if I take my 12–14-year-old child to the RCH Emergency Department? Will they still be helped, or will they be re-directed?

      Yes, they will still be helped as the RCH Emergency Department remains a 0–18 service. Young people aged 12–14 years attending the RCH Emergency Department will receive care.

      What will happen to Secure Welfare referrals for 12–14-year-olds? Who will be responsible for their intake, assessment and treatment?

      The RMH (OSP) will accept Secure Welfare referrals for young people aged between 12–14 years of age living in Western and North West Metropolitan Melbourne and will be responsible for their intake, assessment and treatment as appropriate. RCH will no longer accept Secure Welfare referrals for young people aged 12-14 years of age.

      Where do I get further information?

      If you have any questions, you can contact the RCH Intake team on the following contact number: 1800 44 55 11 or alternatively contact the RMH (OSP): 1800 888 320 

      Rights and responsibilities

      Everyone seeking or receiving care at the RCH Mental Health has certain rights and responsibilities with regard to access, safety, respect, information, participation, privacy and complaints. Our service is committed to ensure that these rights and responsibilities are recognised and upheld at all times.

      It is important that families accessing and using our service know and understand their rights and responsibilities.

      The following short video was developed to give parents and carers an overview of such rights and responsibilities.

      Speakers of Vietnamese can view a translated version of this video below.

      Bệhn Viện Tâm Thần Nhi Ðồng – Thông tin dành cho gia dình: Quyền lợi và trách nhiệm


      English version

      For detailed information about your rights and responsibilities please refer to our brochure Your rights and responsibilities. Charter for parents and carers.

      We have also produced a Rights and Responsibilities Checklist to help you make sure you are receiving all the information about your rights and responsibilities, and that they are being taken seriously throughout your involvement with our service.




      Our vision and mission

      RCH Mental Health Service believes in the vision and values of the RCH. We strive for better mental health and wellbeing for infants, children and young people with their families, carers and communities.

      We are committed to achieving our goals and improving mental health outcomes through:

      • delivering great care in partnership with consumers, families, carers and colleagues 
      • promoting a culture of enquiry in its staff and provides an ideal setting for staff to develop clinical and research skills 
      • leading the development of a system of care that enhances mental health and wellbeing 
      • actively seeking to engage and assist vulnerable children, young people and their families in their own health and wellbeing
      • advocating for the development of research with campus partners to support existing campus strengths, address service design and implementation of evidence-based practice.

      Festival for Healthy Living

      Read about the Festival for Health Living.

      In an emergency

      If there is an urgent concern about an infant, child or adolescent’s mental health and wellbeing:

      • Call 000 and ask for an ambulance
      • If it is safe to drive, attend your nearest emergency department for assessment.

      For all other times, please see details of how to contact us.