$4.6 million to support youth mental health research

The Australian Government is committed to supporting young Australians with their mental health through the translation of research into tailored healthcare centred on their needs.

The Hon Emma McBride MP
Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Assistant Minister Rural and Regional Health

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The Albanese Government is committed to supporting young Australians with their mental health through the translation of research into tailored healthcare centred on their needs.

The Partnership Project scheme funds collaborations between researchers, local governments, health service providers and not-for-profit organisations to work together to research, interpret and translate the findings into health policy and practice.

These projects into youth mental health are part of a broader investment into collaborative health and medical research projects, totalling over $15.6 million in funding. Projects funded today will be supported by many diverse funding partners, contributing a further $28.6 million across all 12 projects, bringing the total investment to $44.2 million.  

Over $4.6 million will go towards new research into improving youth mental health support and services under the recent cycle of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Partnership Project scheme.

Among these projects is research led by Professor Penelope Hasking from Curtin University who has developed a screening tool that accurately identifies university students at increased risk of suicide, allowing for a proactive approach to safety planning and support to those at risk.

This project, in partnerships with Beyond Blue, headspace, Department of Health WA and Lifeline Western Australia, will leverage findings from their program, Checking on Mental Health Providing Alternatives to Suicide for Students (COMPAS-S), to support students identified at elevated risk of suicidal behaviour. 

Self-regulated learning is a way for students to take charge of their own learning by setting goals, planning, monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting their learning strategies. However, this isn’t something that is traditionally taught in school.

Professor Sally Brinkman and team from the University of South Australia will determine whether a program based on self-regulated learning has positive effects on student success and wellbeing.

Dr Rachel Toovey of the University of Melbourne will lead a research team to implement and evaluate a co-designed cycling program (CycLink) to improve participation of children with disability in their local communities.

Parent, co-researcher, and Associate Investigator on the CycLink project, Ms Miriam Yates, said that the project will help close the gaps between learning to ride a bike in a therapy session and becoming a bike rider for fun and fitness, alongside family and friends.

Professor Debra Rickwood from the University of Canberra will define, design, and test real-time, measures of change in client outcomes and clinician actions during online chat-based services. 

Consumer of eheadspace and youth advocate, Joey, said that online mental health support is a vital resource for so many young people, as it is more widely accessible by navigating geographical location and wait times. 

“This research gives attention to the needs of young people and centres young people in service delivery design and practice,”

“I, with many other young people, am excited for this research and the amazing implications it will have on young people, by providing quality online services,” said Joey.

Professor Rickwood’s team combine psychological, computing, online mental health, measurement, and implementation science expertise, alongside young people, and clinician end user co-design, to address this knowledge and practice gap in digital youth mental healthcare.

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the Hon Emma McBride: 

“The projects receiving funding under today’s announcement will inform national mental health policy and services, ensuring they meet the real-world needs of young Australians.

“Driven by a shared goal of improving the health of all Australians, these projects demonstrate the power of collaboration and how it can positively impact access, equity and delivery of healthcare across the nation.”

Quotes attributable to NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh:

“The Partnership Project scheme provides exciting opportunities for researchers and policy makers to work collaboratively together to create improved health policies and healthcare services.

“This scheme allows researchers to collaborate with partners across Australia, gathering expertise required to deliver research that leads to better health outcomes.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Penelope Hasking, Curtin University:

“In this research we will identify university students at increased risk of suicide and work with our clinical psychology trainees to proactively reach out to offer telehealth and support before they reach a suicide crisis. This is a novel approach to suicide prevention that aims to capture and support people before they become suicidal.

“We have trialled this approach at Curtin University and with the support of NHMRC and our Partner Organisations are now ready to test this approach within universities across Australia.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Sally Brinkman, University of South Australia:

“A study in Germany has shown that a simple and inexpensive program was able to help young students with self-regulated learning. We are very excited to partner with the Department for Education in South Australia to adapt and evaluate this program. 

“The matched funding from NHMRC will now enable us to see if it has similar positive effects on student success and wellbeing.”

Quotes attributable to Dr Rachel Toovey, University of Melbourne:

“The CycLink Partnership Project will address an evidence-to-practice gap by implementing and evaluating the CycLink Program, which links children and young people with disability to better health and wellbeing through participation in cycling in their local community.

“The Project team has co-designed this program with families and cross-sector practitioners to target unaddressed barriers to participation. It combines three key elements; a group program that is co-delivered by allied health professionals and local cycling club coaches, opportunities to trial adapted bikes, and an online resource.”

Quotes attributable to Professor Debra Rickwood, University of Canberra:

“This is a really exciting research program that will measure outcomes being achieved for young people who are accessing digital mental health services and will develop an entirely new way to improve the quality and delivery of these much-needed services.

“With headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation as our service partner through its eheadspace service, we will use real-time machine learning techniques to determine how young people experience their online service interactions, rather than a post-appointment survey to collect data.”

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