Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Orygen, the National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health

ProjectYouth Online Training and Employment System (#yotes)



ProgramPast Programs | Health

This grant was originally approved under our past program area of Education & Vocational Pathways but has been re-coded to Health as it is a good fit to our current focus
Rural and regional Victoria Ensuring young Victorians with mental illness living in regional areas can access comprehensive and complementary support from both local services and the #yotes online service
Building organisational capacity Extend capacity in both the provision of vocational support and peer support, and the delivery of online interventions
Extending opportunity Provide young Victorians with mental illness with vocational support, peer support and moderated social interaction with other youth experiencing mental ill health to promote sustainable employment
Collaboration and partnership University of Melbourne, Australian Catholic University, Jobs Victoria, Headspace, Whitelion

Enabling web-based employment support for young people with mental illness.

With mental ill health the number one health issue facing young people worldwide, providing appropriate support is essential to minimise the negative impact on them, their families and the broader community, and maximise their opportunities to participate in work and life according to their personal goals.

Image Rohan MacDonald found work with the assistance of Orygen and its partner Jobs Victoria. Image courtesy: Vic Department of Economic Development.

Young people who experience mental illness are approximately three times more likely to suffer disruption to their education and work life than their peers. Yet they still share the same aspirations and consistently rate gaining employment as one of highest recovery goals when commencing an episode of care for their mental illness. Orygen is working to develop, implement, and evaluate #yotes, a comprehensive web-based support package for young Victorians aged 15-24yrs experiencing barriers to obtaining and remaining in work due to mental illness.

Listen to Rohan talk about how Orygen and Jobs Victoria helped him to find employment.


  • #yotes complements existing face-to-face services and will feature:
    • Interactive content covering 10 Core Skills for Work to develop key employment skills
    • Moderated social interaction with other young people
    • Targeted career support provided by online vocational specialists and peer motivators in real time
  • Young people with mental illnesses will be able to access #yotes for up to 18 months.
  • 200 young people will access this specialised care over the duration of the two year trial project and will participate in the comprehensive evaluation.
  • If the program is successful, Orygen will have the opportunity to roll it out to thousands of young Victorians and to other states in Australia.
  • This project builds on a previous 2010 HMSTrust grant of $61k to develop Horyzon, an online recovery tool for youth early onset psychosis, which resulted in the internationally acclaimed MOST (Moderated Online Social Therapy) platform, attracting the attention of major UK and US universities and Google.
  • Dr Magenta Simmons, Youth Partnerships in Research Coordinator, and Gina Chinnery, National Vocational Services Manager, will lead the project with colleagues A/Professor Mario Alvarez (Head, E-Health), Professor Eóin Killackey (Head, Functional Recovery), and Professor John Gleeson from the Australian Catholic University.
  • Orygen is the world’s leading youth mental health organisation, providing research, policy, clinical services and evidence-based training. Its vocational recovery team is acknowledged as world leaders.
  • In April 2020, in response to COVID-19,  eOrygen was granted $6 million from the Victorian Government to begin rolling out the MOST platform to Victorian headspace centres.

“I am now thinking of the last 10 years working on this digital youth mental health, and how in 2010, you gave us the very first grant to support Horyzons. What a game changer that was for us, leading to where we are today: with an opportunity to have a major impact on the lives of 10,000s of young people in Victoria, Australia and around the world. Thanks so very much for trusting and supporting us, and for being the first do to so. It meant the world to us.”
Mario Alvarez-Jimenez, Director eORYGEN


“We need to focus on assisting young people with an experience of mental ill-health gain employment, to aid their recovery and pursue their life goals. This project is an investment in young people’s future.“ Dr Magenta Simmons.