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New research centre to improve mental health care

Institute News
Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - 1:14pm

A new network of researchers including from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) is aiming to lead a ‘generational shift’ in mental health care by changing the way Australia approaches mental illnesses.

The national centre, the Academy of LIVed-Experience (ALIVE), has secured $10 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The virtual hub, to be based at the University of Melbourne, will involve leading mental health researchers, government bodies, charities and community-based organisations. 

They will work with more than 2000 people with mental illness to help shape research decisions around future models of care. 

Professor George Patton, Professor Harriet Hiscock and Professor David Coghill will lead the research arm out of MCRI. 

Professor Patton said it was an incredible step forward in changing the way Australia worked with people affected by mental health issues.

“It presents a great opportunity to bring a focus to prevention of mental disorders right across the life course, but particularly in childhood and adolescence, because so many begin early in life,” he said.

“Furthermore, by working hand-in-hand with those living with mental illness and carers we aim to develop a better system of care bringing sustainable recovery and improving outcomes.”

Professor Hiscock said despite increased recognition and investment in treatment, the prevalence of mental health disorders in developed countries had remained unchanged over the past 20 years.

But she said ALIVE’s evidence-based model would emphasise early identification and prevention over crisis support, and take a holistic approach, addressing physical as well as mental health.

Professor Coghill said the centre’s inclusive approach to addressing mental health needs represented a significant step towards reducing the many inequalities inherent in the current systems.

ALIVE will report to an independent governance committee headed by former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Allan Fels and the National Mental Health Commission.