When The Hills Clinic, Kellyville's new young adult ward opened on Friday, guests could be forgiven for thinking they had entered an inner-city cafe.
Psychiatrist and clinic co-founder Jason Pace said the space will be used to deliver a three-week in-patient program to people aged 16 to 25 with mental health conditions including depression, anxiety and personality disorder.
At least six people are due to take up residence this week in the space designed by his brother Patrick Pace. The murals, comfortable furnishings and WiFi throughout are not the only distinguishing features of the ward. It has a five-pillar approach to treatment that provides information about an individual's condition, self-development, safety, communication and family.
"A lot of the young people I see are often socially isolated and they've sort of forgotten how to engage with things," Dr Pace said.
'The program also involves a lot of diversional-type activities to build confidence. We have martial arts two or three days of the week in the program, art therapy, horticultural therapy. Every day they're doing something different, being stimulated and really pushing their boundaries."
Teachers, psychologists and school counsellors were consulted as the program was developed. A deep technology detox at the start aims to get patients to consider how to use technology responsibly.
"I think the discussion needs to start with an emptiness," Dr Pace said.
"A lot of [patients] might be at school and at university as well, so if you leave it too long away from their normal life it's hard.
"We'll be encouraging them to go home on weekends and during free time so they're not institutionalised here for three weeks. The focus on discharge is always there."
Colina Kidson, 27, was treated at the clinic for depression in June 2011. She believes a technology detox is a great idea.
‘‘I love that element. I think there are definite negatives to social media and you can learn more from your experience here if you’re not connected to the outside world. You need to retreat on your own.’’
‘‘I think this ward is fabulous. You need to split the maturity levels because you’d have a group therapy session and you’ve got 15 of you . There’d be some 60-year-olds and 50-year-olds, then 16-year-olds.
‘‘It works to a degree [but] I think it just becomes more comfortable a space to talk and not feel dumbed down or like you’re too mature for the conversation.’’