Top 3 questions – The Black Dog Institute, The Essential Network (TEN) and mental health

In this video, Dr Lucas De Toca, and Associate Professor Jill Newby from the Black Dog Institute answer questions about the Black Dog Institute, The Essential Network (TEN) and mental health.


Good morning, I am Dr Lucas De Toca, welcome to the Top 3. I lead the Australian Government's primary care response to COVID-19, including the rollout of the vaccine through primary care.

As usual I'm joined today by James, who's doing Auslan interpreting. Thank you for joining us again, James.

I'm lucky enough today to be doing a slightly different format, and it will be an interview today and we're very fortunate to be joined by Associate Professor Jill Newby from the Black Dog Institute. Welcome Jill.

Thank you, thanks for having me.

The Black Dog Institute is a global leader in mental health research, across a whole range of aspects in the field and it's the only medical research institute in Australia focused on mental health research across the whole lifespan.

Before beginning I want to acknowledge that we're on the land of the Ngunnawal people, especially during Harmony Week and a day after Close the Gap Day.

So, commencing today with the interview, so Jill leads the Black Dog Institute's TEN, which is the essential network for health professionals as a digital mental health platform. So we're really keen to hear about that and the work that the Black Dog Institute does around mental health in Australia, noting that you were the first researcher to look at the impacts of COVID-19 in Mental Health in Australia, weren't you?

Yeah, that's right.

Exciting, thanks for joining us today. So, can you tell us about what type of research the

Black Dog Institute conducts?

Yeah, sure. So the Black Dog Institute, as you said is a mental health research institute where we look at mental health across the lifespan. All the way from early, early life into older adulthood, and we're really focused on trying to make a mentally healthier world for everyone, and very strong focus on translational research. So, we know when a lot of research is done it's done in silos and not a lot of people sort of learn about it, but our research is focusing on making sure that any research that we do and others do has impact. So, we work on education programs, like workplace education to try and improve mental health of workplaces.

We look at developing resources, digital tools and apps, anything that makes mental health more accessible and improves the mental health of Australians.

So not just advancing knowledge but actually making change in society and to the individual.

Yeah, that's right because there's often such a long gap between when the research is done and when it has impact in the community. So we're trying to close that gap too make sure that the research that we do has impact on the people it's designed to benefit.

Makes sense, and and that is some of the thinking around TEN. Can you can you tell us a bit more about what TEN is?

Sure, so I mean the background to TEN was at the very start of the pandemic. We did a few rapid reviews and also did a massive survey of over 6000 people in the community, and we knew what was coming. So, already people had said their mental health had been worse since the start of the pandemic, but we knew health professionals were particularly vulnerable.

They've been under enormous pressure over the last year, lots of stress, burnout, and they've had to really adapt and change all the time in their workplaces, to just adapt to the work and the pandemic situation. So TEN is designed to help improve mental health of healthcare workers, so we brought all the information together in the one spot to provide simple, clear, easy advice about how to improve their mental health so that includes resources, we connect people to the care that they might need, we do digital assessments and give tailored advice and recommendations to health professionals, and we also have a clinical service that can treat people online via telehealth or face to face.

So how do health professionals access TEN? Do they go on a website?

Yep, so they go to the website. It's digital first, and we did that because we know health professionals are very time poor, they have very limited time to get the information they need.So, we wanted to simplify that. So they go to the TEN website and they can do a digital assessment that tells them how their mental health is going and then they get tailored advice based on how they're doing.

And they just Google 'TEN'?

Just Google 'TEN', 'Black Dog TEN'.

Great, we'll put a link on the description of the video. That sounds really good, especially a year into the pandemic and health professionals having been at the front line of dealing with that. Both directly dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and then also the other indirect impacts of restrictions, public health measures, and how it's impacted people and health professionals are part of society, of course they're affected too. Thank you. On that note, and as I said, it's been more than a year now that COVID-19 has been impacting our lives so we get a lot of questions about people struggling and their family members and their loved ones struggling.

So, what advice would you provide to our viewers in terms of how to deal with the stress and the struggles that they're experiencing with COVID-19?

I think there's a few things. For health professionals, I would recommend they go straight to TEN and look at the resources and supports that are there. For people in the community there's a few things, the first thing is knowing they're not alone, don't suffer in silence, make sure that you talk to someone that you trust, that can help you talk about how you're feeling and the supports that are available to you, and then the next step is looking at what help there is. So, the first place I usually recommend is a GP, a trusted GP, because they know who in your area is going to be good that can help get the support you need, and they'll do a thorough assessment about what your needs are and how severe the situation is, and then they can refer you to health professionals like psychologists or psychiatrists and do a health plan

To see how they you can improve your mental well-being, and then the third thing is just looking after the day-to-day things that help improve mental health. We really underestimate the effects of good sleep, of exercise or even just some physical activity, getting outside, having a break from work, having a break from study and diet. The things that you eat affect how you feel, so all of those things. So all of those things can really make a difference, so don't underestimate just going for a walk and how powerful an impact that can have on your mental health.

Great. Thank you. Lots of very useful tips for our viewers today.That's the end of the interview, unfortunately. These segments are short but I'm sure there's heaps more thatwe can talk about and there's more information on the TEN website for health professionals to access so we strongly recommend that you go and and check that out because it will be a really useful resource. Thank you so much for joining us, Jill. It's been really good to have that slightly different take and focus on mental health and how people can look after themselves and others. Before we finish, just a quick shout out to the commencement of what we call phase 1b of the vaccine rollout from next week. Over six million people in

Australia will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from Monday, and they will be able to access it across over a thousand general practices, more than 100 Commonwealth GP Respiratory Clinics and Aboriginal Community Control Health Services. Don't rush this is not a race, it's a marathon, not a sprint, if anything, and there will be more and more clinics coming on board every week. Your GP will probably reach out if you're in an eligible category and invite you to come for a vaccination. Otherwise, you can jump into the service finder and book online and look for one of their Commonwealth clinics, but we will start seeing more and more people getting vaccinated over the next few weeks as thousands of practices join the vaccination effort so it's very exciting times. It's the first step to get out of this pandemic that has been impacting all of us and our mental health and we're really looking forward to commencing that next stage. Thanks again, Jill.

Thank you.

Thank you as always, James, and thank you everyone for watching and for staying COVIDSafe.

Have a great weekend.

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  1. What kind of mental health research does the Black Dog Institute provide?
  2. What is TEN?
  3. What advice would you give someone who is struggling with their mental health during this time?
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