Advance Queensland to advance mental health research

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mentail health australiaThe Queensland Government is throwing its support behind critical mental health research, from pinpointing the origins of schizophrenia to preventing psychiatric problems some Parkinson’s disease patients encounter after undergoing a surgical procedure to improve motor function.

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch today announced $570,000 in grants for four mental health research projects as part of more than $10 million funding for 54 recipients from the Advance Queensland Research Fellowships and PhD Scholarships programs.

Ms Enoch said all four projects were critical in improving the lives of thousands of Queenslanders.

“Mental illness, in all its forms, is debilitating for patients and their families,” Ms Enoch said.

“The four research projects we’re supporting not only confirm Queensland as a leading centre for neuroscience research in Australia, but they offer up new possibilities in diagnosing and treating illnesses like schizophrenia and depression.”

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the research had the potential to improve outcomes for people with mental illness and their carers.

“Mental illness continues to be one of the most misunderstood conditions in our society,” Mr Dick said.

“This research could provide important insights and improvements on the treatment and hopefully remove some of the stigma associated with mental illness.”

Dr James Kesby from the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at the University of Queensland has been awarded a $300,000 Advance Queensland Research Fellowship for his work looking at the links between dopamine neuron development in the prenatal brain and the onset of schizophrenia.

Dr Kesby said current drug therapies for schizophrenia were largely ineffective and we needed to find other ways of dealing with the illness.

“We need to get back to basics, by looking at the origins and progression towards schizophrenia,” Dr Kesby said.

“If we can work out what’s going on in the brain prior to schizophrenia, I believe we can find biomarkers for early detection.”

The Advance Queensland Research Fellowship supports two research teams working in partnership to translate the research into clinical outcomes – a basic research team working at the QBI and a second clinical research team at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research.

“One of the major hurdles in mental health research is the lack of direct communication between basic scientists and clinical researchers. By working closely together, we can fast track innovative ideas and research into practical outcomes for patients,” Dr Kesby said.

Dr Philip Mosley from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute received a $180,000 Advance Queensland Research Fellowship for his work on overcoming the negative impact of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) treatment on some people with Parkinson’s disease. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the Change will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.

Depression – rethinking emotional blunting

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depression and mental healthTwo hallmarks of depression that go hand in hand are isolation and withdrawal.

While saying things like they want to die, feel completely alone, or have nobody who cares about them are obvious indications of a troubled mental state. General feelings of being helpless or trapped may mean a person withdraws from others and distance themselves from social interaction.

Many people with depression are good at masking their feelings of self-negativity, a colleague may brush off a sudden disappearance from team lunches or department happy hours by blaming an increased workload or other job-related obligations.

Psychiatrists Professor David Castle and Professor Malcolm Hopwood and GP Dr Michael Johnston explain how the CHEER Index tool can help set positive goals for depressed patients; by assessing both positive and negative emotional functioning, the depressed patient’s goal can be adjusted from merely stopping feelings of sadness to regaining feelings of happiness.

Professors Hopwood and Castle have just begun to validate the CHEER Index against the gold standard, the Snaith-Hamilton pleasure scale, in a project that will assess people when they are depressed and well, and rate their emotional responses according to mood rating scales and the CHEER Index.  The results are expected at the end of the year.

The CHEER Index was developed by Professors David J. Castle and Malcolm Hopwood for the PRISM clinical audit, supported by Servier Laboratories (Aust) Pty Ltd. To read more click here.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a steep rise in death by suicide among middle-aged Australians and young woman has driven the national suicide rate to its highest level in 13 years.

Depression and suicide will be discussed at The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the Change which will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.

The truth about mental health within gay communities

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mens-depression-2Young gay and bisexual men stand a greater risk for mental health issues than straight men.

The results of a new study revealed mental health issues varied greatly among men who have sex with men (MSM), but high levels of income and living with a male partner decreased the likelihood of men suffering from depression or anxiety.

Conducted in the United Kingdom and released in the Journal of Public Health, the survey was one of only a few that focused on the mental health of MSM.

“Typically national and government surveys – even if they are quite large – only have a few gay and bisexual men in them,” lead author Ford Hickson told Reuters Health.

“They’re good at comparing gay and bisexual men to other men, but there are too few to do comparisons within the group.”

Findings revealed about 21 per cent of participants were depressed, 17 per cent had anxiety, about seven per cent had harmed themselves in the past year and three per cent had attempted suicide.

Participants under the age of 26 were at greater risk for poor mental health: about 29 per cent were depressed, 24 per cent reported anxiety, about 14 had per cent harmed themselves in the past year and about 6 percent had tried to commit suicide. To read more click here.

Men who were a part of an ethnic minority, had low levels of education or were also attracted to women also faced greater risk of poor mental health.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders. To register for the conference CLICK HERE.

Sugarland performance provides platform for regional students to discuss mental health

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australian-aboriginal-girlHoping to shed light on mental health issues and Indigenous culture, north Queensland high schools have opened their doors to educational performance arts workshops.

Pioneer State High School drama teacher, Sarah Ling, welcomed the workshops into her classroom earlier this week as reported by ABC News.

She explained the workshops were run by company members of the Australian Theatre For Young People who are involved in Sugarland — a play which sets out to expose the issues young people encounter in regional areas.

“I chose this workshop because we have a lot of Indigenous students at our school, and this particular performance that they are seeing explores a lot of different Indigenous stories, histories and cultures,” Ms Ling said.

“We let the kids explore it at their own will. If they don’t want to explore these issues, they don’t want to talk about them that’s fine we don’t push them to do that.

“If they do want to explore them we think ‘great’ you can explore these issues … through the games they’re involved in.”

Ms Ling said the workshops also benefited the students by giving them an insight into what it was like to work in the performance arts industry.

Following the workshop, her students will be among 300 other Mackay students from different schools this week to watch the performance. To read more click here.

The 2016 Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium will be held at Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff, NSW from 3-4 November 2016. To express your interest in the conference.CLICK HERE.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss rural Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion.

Mental Health App Helps Track Moods

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MoodPrism mental health appAn Australian team from Monash University has developed a new smartphone app to track users’ moods over time and support their mental health and wellbeing.

It’s thought that nearly one in every two Australians will experience a mental health condition at some time in their life.

The MoodPrism app, developed by Monash researchers with funding from mental health Not for Profit beyondblue, is designed to combat some of these issues.

The developers said mood tracking apps like MoodPrism aimed to prevent mental illness and decrease psychological distress.

Mental health and wellbeing apps are being used increasingly by people of all ages. Australian app Smiling Mind has received international acclaim for bringing mindfulness meditation to almost one million mobile phone users. It is now being used widely in schools and organisations around Australia.

The Monash team leader Adjunct Associate Professor Nikki Rickard said the app had created a contemporary means for users to engage with their feelings and emotions.

“The new mood tracking app functions like a modern day mood diary, which asks users how they are feeling on a day-to-day basis,” Professor Rickard said.

“After answering a few questions, the app converts and records responses into a colourful ‘mood history’. Users can explore their mood history at any time to gain insight into their emotional wellbeing and overall mental health.

“By using MoodPrism on an iPhone or Android device, users can monitor their mental health in any context, whether they’re at work, home, or on public transport.”

Rickard said MoodPrism delivered feedback to users about their own positive and negative mental health, and offers useful information and links to appropriate online mental health resources like beyondblue and Headspace. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the Change will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD 11 -12 August 2016.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.

Patterns of use for mental health treatment in Australia

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mental health treatmentA new publication released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics provides insight into how Australians used mental health related services and medications in 2011. It was produced as part of the Mental Health Services-Census Data Integration Project, on behalf of the National Mental Health Commission.

The publication Patterns of Use of Mental Health Services and Prescription Medications, 2011 examines Commonwealth subsidised mental health related services and medications accessed through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) in 2011. It integrates these findings with 2011 Census data, building on a previous report to provide clear information about patterns of use for mental health treatment in Australia.

The analysis in this report complements other analyses of MBS and PBS data, as well as other data available, including the Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation that reports on MBS, PBS and admitted patient care data.

Given the complexity of the report, the National Mental Health Commission will continue to work with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other stakeholders to understand how best to interpret these statistics on patterns of use and to inform future data development and analyses. To read more about the key findings of the report click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the Change will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD 11 -12 August 2016.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.

17th International Mental Health Conference: Abstracts are now open

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mental health guiding the changeThe 17th International Mental Health Conference will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

You are invited to join us as we address the conference theme “Guiding the Change” across the broad spectrum of mental disorders.

There is an opportunity to take to the platform and have your say. If you would like to speak at the 2016 Conference CLICK HERE to submit an abstract.

Abstracts close on Friday 22nd April.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the change will explore the following topics:

  • Indigenous Wellbeing
  • Creating Workplaces that are Healthy, Productive and Enhance Recovery
  • The Importance of Mental Health Carers
  • e-health, Innovative Uses of Technology and Social Media
  • Research, Education and Case Studies
  • Self-Harm, Suicide and Survival
  • Clinical Disorder Updates
  • From Childhood to Adolescents to Adulthood – The Journey of Life
  • Open Topic

Confirmed speakers receive a 30 Minute Presentation – All invited authors will have 30 minutes to present their latest ideas, research and findings, A listing in Official Program – ​All accepted presenters will be published in the Official Program, available online and in the Conference Handbook, will have the opportunity to have their full paper included in the Book of Conference Proceedings with an ISBN. All presentations are recorded as podcasts and released after the Conference. This provides ongoing research and discussion. Delegates have access to this resource post Conference.

CLICK HERE to submit your abstract today and play your part in guiding the change.

Depression – 10 natural ways to lift mood

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happy family having fun outdoors

As well as clinical treatment for depression, clinicians may also recommend natural ways to help a patient along the road to optimal health to feel happier and stay well.

A healthy diet, exercise, relaxation techniques and doing things that bring joy all contribute towards helping to recover from a depressive mental state.

Affecting more than 340 million people in the world, depression is one of the most well-known mental disorders. Similar in ways to the symptoms that indicate general anxiety disorder, the symptoms of depression can be slower to detect. But they can have easy remedies.

Below is an exclusive look at the best natural ways to treat depression. Of course, it’s imperative to consult your physician if you notice an abrupt change in your mood, feelings or sense of well-being, but it’s good to know that some slight life changes could make you feel better.

Situational depression is triggered commonly by external events, and clinical depression is triggered from within. Very often, clinical depression needs medical attention.

Natural exercises can help renew a sense of purpose and  reinvigorate attitudes toward certain areas of life. Natural ways that help symptoms of depression include;

  • Eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables
  • Eating more foods with B vitamins
  • Writing down goals
  • Drinking more water
  • Getting closer to nature
  • Developing a routine sleep cycle
  • Doing something new or creative
  • Talking with someone you trust
  • Taking some light exercise
  • Trying relaxation techniques such as Yoga and meditation
  • Giving up drinking coffee

To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the Change will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.

Every Three Hours Someone In Australia Dies By Suicide

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suicide and mental healthThe story that emerges is that things have become worse in terms of Australians dying by suicide — which is already the leading cause of death for those between 15 and 44. And that there are thousands of families, friends and work colleagues who at some moment received that horrifying text message or Facebook status post that someone who they love has died by suicide.

Many ask themselves in that moment the same question that the nation has been asking itself this week after learning of these sorrowful stats — why? And, particularly, why this increase in deaths by suicide now?

We live in a time when Australia — its national political ping-pong aside — is envied around the planet for its relative peace and prosperity. While poverty and disadvantage are very real, especially for indigenous Australians, many of us eat better than the kings of less than 150 years ago. Therefore, what accounts for the contrast between our comparative wealth and our crappy well-being? How is it possible that there are now some eight deaths by suicide — one every three hours — each day?

From the perspective of Lifeline, which fields some 2600 calls per day from help-seekers, with about half of those from people in crisis, the answer is that we don’t know. Nor, I would respectfully suggest, does the mental health fraternity; their discipline is necessarily focused on medical factors (e.g. what’s wrong with you?) rather than social or contextual factors (what’s happening for you?).

But there are things that are known and it’s imperative that as a community we act on what Lifeline believes is a national emergency in order to literally save more lives. It’s especially timely as the Federal Government currently authors a suicide prevention flank as part of the 5th National Mental Health Plan.

We know that isolation and loneliness are very significant risk factors in suicidality. Disconnection drives despair, particularly for those who may already be struggling under the weight of a mental illness, depression or anxiety. It’s been suggested that in a digital world — where we physically spend upward of 24 hours per week on-line and countless energy in comparing our regular lives to the curated lives of others — some people become unstuck from the healing glue that binds family and friends together for mutual good.

We know that protective factors — which are defined as “skills, strengths or resources to help people deal more effectively with stressful events” — are vital to suicide prevention. It’s frankly the case that as a society we’re not doing enough on that front, where the ultimate aim should be keeping people from ever needing to call for help. Indeed, federal expenditure for suicide prevention is half the level of federal expenditure for road safety, even though deaths by suicide are double the road toll. That needs to change in the Budget. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the Change will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD from the 11 -12 August 2016.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.

The ‘drugs v talking’ debate doesn’t help us understand mental health

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mental health conference australiaMental health is in the headlines again. In recent weeks, we have had the independent commission report on psychiatric care in England, which concluded that patients should not be treated miles away from their families; the Mental Health Taskforce report, which highlighted a rise in suicides; and the prime minister committing to improving mental health services.

But it was the BBC’s In the Mind series that reignited a longstanding debate about the nature and treatment of mental illness. Sometimes this has been caricatured as “psychiatry v psychology”, or equally unhelpfully “drugs v talking”, or “brain v mind”. But these are false distinctions, which don’t help in understanding mental disorders, don’t help mental health professionals, and most of all don’t help patients.

Sometimes these arguments arise from a confusion about what the different mental health professions do. All of us have been professionally trained to help people with psychological distress or mental illness, but we do so in different, albeit overlapping, ways.

Psychiatry is a medical speciality, like general practice, surgery or general medicine. We train for at least five years as a doctor and then do two further years of “foundation” jobs in hospitals before we can start to choose our speciality, in my case psychiatry. Like other areas of medicine, psychiatry builds its knowledge through the observation of unusual and distressing conditions. It uses a diagnostic system, which tries to identify clusters of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that seem to occur together. Some also research the social, psychological and physical causes of mental disorder, with a view to finding effective ways of helping. Psychiatrists usually work with people who have complex disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism or bipolar disorder.

Clinical psychologists have gained a psychology degree followed by three years’ doctorate clinical training. They use several models of psychological therapy to help patients. Psychology focuses on psychological mechanisms. Clinical psychologists work with the some of the same patient groups as psychiatrists, such as those with eating disorders or dementia. To read more click here.

The 17th International Mental Health Conference; Guiding the Change will be held at the brand new Sea World Resort Conference Centre on the Gold Coast, QLD 11 -12 August 2016.

This conference will bring together leading clinical practitioners, academics, service providers and mental health experts to deliberate and discuss Mental Health issues confronting Australia and New Zealand.

The conference program will be designed to challenge, inspire, demonstrate and encourage participants while facilitating discussion. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.