Implementation of evidence-based group interventions in a community-based mental health service for self-harming and suicidal youth

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Objective: Suicide and self-harm have significant health, economic and social costs. Group-based interventions can be an effective and advantageous treatment approach; however, there is little evidence on the application of these groups in youth community mental health settings in Australia. Using the RE-AIM framework, we explore the feasibility and implementation of two group programmes in a youth-focussed community-based mental health service: dialectical behaviour therapy-adolescent (DBT-A) and cognitive behavioural Self and Strength (S&S). 

Method: Data were collected from an Australian community mental health service that implemented two group therapy treatments over 12 months. RE-AIM implementation framework outcomes included programme reach (patient flow, group uptake, treatment completion), effectiveness (youth and care clinical outcomes), adoption (staff perception), implementation (barriers), and maintenance (service commitment and acceptability). 

Results: Groups were considered for all eligible clients (61% of referrals), of these 36% accepted treatment and of those who commenced, 71% completed DBT-A and 82% completed S&S. DBT-A participants reported improved suicidality, emotion dysregulation, self-harm and quality of life (QoL). S&S participants reported improved QoL. Despite small sample size, treatment was acceptable to participants, with high retention and adherence across both groups. Clinicians involved in facilitation noted positive clinical impacts. 

Conclusions: Group-based interventions have the potential to reduce emotion dysregulation difficulties for youth. Understanding barriers to uptake of group programmes in community-based mental health settings is essential to improve the reach and implementation of group programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-61
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychologist
Issue number1
Early online date13 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Community mental health
  • group therapy
  • implementation
  • self-harm
  • suicide
  • youth mental health


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