Intellectual disability mental health hubs


Who we are

The Sydney Children's Hospital Network Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Hub is a statewide service that helps to improve the mental health of children and teens under 18 years old with intellectual or developmental disability. It is funded by NSW Health.

The hub is run by the Developmental Psychiatry Team within the Department of Psychological Medicine at the Children's Hospital at Westmead. The hub team includes:

  • child psychiatrist
  • clinical psychologist
  • occupational therapist
  • social worker
  • service coordinator and manager.

What we do

The hub works with the child or young person's clinician or doctor by providing their expertise in assessment, diagnosis and treatment of their intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder or both. For example:

  • the child or teen may find it difficult to communicate their needs to others
  • a specialist at the hub would work closely with the child or teen's clinician to understand their subtle behavioural and nonverbal cues
  • a communication style could then be adapted to enable them to work and communicate directly with the child or teen, as well as their carers and support networks.

The Hub can also provide expertise on:

  • the different ways information can be presented to the child or teen
  • evidence-based adaptive therapies and their use
  • specialist skills in positive behaviour management.

The hub can offer the following services face-to-face or via telehealth, depending on the level of clinical complexity:

  • joint consultation with the medical professional or mental health clinician, the child or teen, their family member or carer to provide assessment, diagnosis and treatment intervention of one to three consultations
  • clinical consultation with the child or teen and their family member or carer to provide short-term treatment advice to the referrer
  • case-based discussion between a hub psychiatrist and the referring medical professional or clinician.

How to get help


Eligible consumers are children and young people who are under 18 years old who live in NSW and meet all of the following:

  • a diagnosed intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder or both, with co-occurring mental health issues and complex needs
  • an existing primary treating clinician or team providing ongoing care
  • were referred to local community mental health services and more specialised support is required from the Hub team
  • already engaged with local disability services such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funded positive behaviour support or other therapies.

Access to the Hub is provided on the basis that the child or teen's primary clinician is responsible for ongoing care and that all requests have been discussed with, and accepted by, the child or young person's family.


Referrals are needed to access the hub and are accepted across NSW from:

  • paediatricians who require assistance after having made an initial referral to local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and after providing support to the family to access disability services
  • child psychiatrists requiring a second opinion. If both a paediatrician and a psychiatrist are involved in the care of a consumer, the preference is for the psychiatrist to initiate the referral.
  • CAMHS clinicians seeking advice.

Referral requests are to include a comprehensive referral letter (form) about:

  • the child or young person and their family
  • the nature of the psychological problem
  • the reason for referral
  • any other relevant medical information and reports.

The completed referral form can be emailed to

More information about the Mental Health Intellectual Disability hub is available at the Sydney Children's Hospital Network.

Current as at: Monday 23 January 2023
Contact page owner: Mental Health