Project Details

Ripple: researching evidence based interventions to improve the mental health of vulnerable young people living in out of home care by strengthening the therapeutic capacities of their carers.

This NHMRC Partnership grant led by Professor Helen Herrman (Orygen Research Centre) is researching evidence-based interventions to improve mental health for young people (aged 12-17) in out-of-home care. Out-of-home care (OoHC) refers to the care of children and young people removed from their families by the state because of abuse, neglect or other adversities. Young people in OoHC are highly vulnerable to mental ill-health and associated problems with relationships, education and meaningful activity.  Typically, they also have poor access to mental health services. The 5-year project aims to deliver evidence-based mental health support and care across the health and community service system relevant to these young people in Victoria, principally through strengthening the therapeutic capacities of their carers.

The study is conducted in partnership with mental health, substance abuse and social services in metropolitan Melbourne, with young people as active participants. It has three parts: 1. Needs assessment followed by implementation of a complex mental health intervention; 2. A 3-year controlled trial to determine the mental health, social and economic outcomes of the intervention; and 3. A nested process evaluation of the intervention. The primary study hypothesis is that young people in OoHC in the intervention group will have better mental health, greater resilience  and better social function than those receiving care as usual in the comparison group.

The partnership has attracted Rotary and UoM Social Equity Institute funding, 2 PhDs and other student research studies (MD, Masters in Public Health).


Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne
School of Social Work, University of Melbourne
MacKillop Family Services
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)
Westcare (Salvation Army)
Foundation House (the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture and Trauma)
Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY)
Take Two (state-provided psychological services for children and young people in OoHC)
Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH)


Herrman H, Humphreys C, McGorry P, Kaplan I, Mitchell P, Harvey C, Mihalopoulos C, Cotton S, Davis E. & Vance, A. Improving mental health for young people in out-of-home care: providing participatory evidence-based mental health care across services. 5 years. NHMRC Mental Health Targeted Call for Research.

Herrman H, Mitchell P, Moeller-Saxone K, Cotton S, Harvey C & Humphreys C. The Bounce Project: The effectiveness of peer support training to enhance the mental health and wellbeing of young people leaving Out of Home Care. 2 years. Australian Rotary Health Research.

Herrman H, Cahill H, Moeller-Saxone K, Mitchell P, Humphreys C, Cotton S & Harvey C. The Bounce Project: Peer-support training for young people leaving Out of Home Care, to improve social inclusion, mental health and wellbeing. 1 year. Melbourne Social Equity Institute Interdisciplinary seed funding.

Research Outcomes

Monson K, Moeller-Saxone K, Humphreys C, Harvey C, Malcolm S & Herrman H. It’s not about white walls, it’s about real life: understanding the mental health needs of young people with experience of Out of Home Care. In revised submission to Journal of Mental Health.

Research Group

Psychosocial Research Group

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre


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