Prevention, Early Identification and Management of Mental Health Problems
Many people who experience mental health problems experience their first symptoms in childhood or adolescence. However, only 25-50% of children experiencing clinically significant emotional or behavioural problems seek help from school-based or professional services.
Given the life-course burden of mental illness, NEIHR members are collaborating on a range of projects focusing on the effects of intervening among those at-risk of developing mental health problems later in life as well as those children and adolescents currently experiencing significant psychosocial
Treatment and Management of Adult Mental Health Problems
One in every five Australians experienced anxiety, depression and/or a substance use disorder in the past year. Effective treatments are available to reduce the distress and impairment associated with these mental health problems. Nonetheless, people who seek treatment are not necessarily prescribed evidence-based interventions; and for those that are, a significant proportion do not receive a minimally adequate dose of therapy. To reduce these gaps in care, NEIHR members are examining the effectiveness and efficiency of current healthcare models for adults living in regional and rural Australia.
The global population is ageing. As we age, many of us will experience some degree of cognitive decline and a smaller number will experience neurocognitive disorders including dementia. With the purpose of reducing the personal and economic impact of cognitive decline, impairment and the dementias, NEIHR members are collaborating on multidisciplinary projects about the epidemiology, course, prevention and management of these problems.
Regional Disparities in Psychiatric Epidemiology
Much of what is known about the epidemiology of common and severe mental disorders has been delineated using nationally representative surveys and large-scale longitudinal cohort studies. Yet, little is known about whether the prevalence, course and service-use patterns associated with mental illness differ between those living in major cities vs. rural and regional Australia. We are working to address these significant gaps in knowledge about potential geographical disparities in health and wellbeing.
Regional Gaps in Mental Healthcare
Although psychological and pharmacotherapies are known to be effective for mental health problems, the availability of these interventions are limited by structural and attitudinal barriers. People may not believe their symptoms are serious enough to seek help or can be concerned about the stigma of mental health problems.
Treatments may also be too expensive, and tend to be located in major cities. Access to evidence-based interventions and specialist services are particularly difficult for those in rural and regional Australia. This project examines the ways in which these barriers influence the service utilisation patterns and wellbeing of rural and regional Australians.
Effectiveness of E-Health Treatments
E-health interventions for the common mental disorders have been developed across the past decade with the purpose of reducing barriers to care. In general, these interventions have been found to reduce patients’ psychological distress, functional impairments, and symptom severity to a similar degree as face-to-face services but at a lower cost.
We are working with our partner organisations to evaluate the effectiveness of prescribing these treatments in routine clinical care, and factors that increase their coverage in rural and regional Australia.