New collaborative set to improve mental health outcomes

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addiction and brain scienceA ground breaking collaborative is being formed to tap into the community and more effectively identify and respond to the Wide Bay’s mental health, alcohol and drug needs.

Open forums were held recently in Bundaberg, Hervey Bay and Gayndah to consult with consumers, carers and service providers before the Wide Bay Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Strategic Collaborative starts operating from July onwards.

The collaborative is being led by Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service (WBHHS) and Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network (PHN).

Expressions of interest are now invited from individuals seeking to be a member of the strategic collaborative.

PHN Wide Bay Area Manager Tracey Warhurst said it was important for key healthcare organisations to work together and consult with the community to develop a responsive, evidence-based approach to improving mental health, alcohol and other drugs healthcare systems in the Wide Bay region.

“We know mental health is an issue for this region and we’re taking steps to make sure we’re giving rural and regional communities a voice and an opportunity to tell us what they feel they need and will benefit from most,” Ms Warhurst said.

“Our role is to identify areas of high health needs, and to ensure that our communities can receive the right care in the right place at the right time.

“Mental health and wellbeing is a priority, and we will continue to commission local service providers to deliver these services, along with expanding mental health and suicide prevention programs with a local focus in mind.” 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 2016 Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium; working together integrating care will be held at Mantra on Salt Beach, Kingscliff, NSW from 3-4 November 2016.

CLICK HERE to express your interest in the conference.

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

 

Government urged to address ‘epidemic’ Indigenous suicide rates in remote Australia

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suicide in katherineAboriginal communities across the nation are calling on the Federal Government to urgently address what they describe as an “epidemic” of Indigenous suicides in remote Australia.

The crisis is most acute in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, where a 10-year-old girl recently hung herself.

Indigenous leaders there say the Federal Government must act now to prevent further deaths.

The call comes as the first-ever National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference begins tonight in Alice Springs.

Aboriginal people and health workers will travel from across Australia to attend the conference in the wake of escalating Indigenous suicide rates, particularly over the past five years.

The Aboriginal Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project, chaired by West Australian academic Pat Dudgeon and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner Tom Calma, has been mapping suicide rates.

Mr Calma said suicide rates in remote Australia could be described as an epidemic.

He said there had been a doubling of Indigenous suicide rates in the Kimberley during the past five years, and that the problem was larger than official statistics suggested because many deaths were never reported to the coroner.

For more than three years, $17.8 million in funds earmarked for Indigenous suicide prevention has remained unspent by the Federal Government.

The funding was tied to a national indigenous suicide prevention plan devised by Labor under the Gillard government, but never implemented.

Incoming Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion quarantined the funds upon the change of government in 2013, and the funds are now attached to a national suicide prevention strategy to be rolled out from August.

Senator Scullion’s office referred questions on the issue to the Federal Government’s Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash.

A spokesman for the Minister said the Australian Government funded a number of suicide prevention and mental health programs to which Indigenous people had access.

“The Australian Government’s mental health reforms were only announced in November last year, and since this time, Primary Health Networks have been working hard to develop needs analysis, identify service gaps and overlaps and produce work plans in preparation for July 1,” he said.

“It is important that this methodical planning work is completed prior to the flow of funding.” To read more at ABC 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.

CLICK HERE to express your interest in the conference.

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

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 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.

New data on brain network activity can help in understanding ‘cognitive vulnerability’ to depression

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mental health and brain scienceNeuroimaging studies of interconnected brain networks may provide the “missing links” between behavioral and biological models of cognitive vulnerability to depression, according to a research review in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer and reported by Medical News Today.

Research on neural network interactions and related brain activity patterns has provided new insights into the thought processes that make some people vulnerable to depression, according to the update by Dr. Shuqiao Yao of Central South University in Changsha, China, and colleagues. They believe this “neural system perspective” might help in clarifying cognitive vulnerability versus resilience to depression, perhaps leading to the development of new treatment approaches.

Cognitive (thinking-related) factors have a well-established impact on vulnerability to major depressive disorder. Cognitive processes involving rumination and “negatively biased” self-assessments are believed to be key factors contributing to the development of depression.

“Although it is generally accepted that cognitive factors contribute to the pathogenesis of major depressive disorder, there are missing links between behavioral and biological models of depression,” Dr. Yao and coauthors write. “Advances in brain imaging, especially in the field of intrinsic neural network research, may provide a useful tool to identify the missing neural-behavioral links.”

The authors discuss and analyze recent neuroimaging research on the “abnormal activities and interactions” within and between brain networks that may affect cognitive vulnerability. Studies have identified increased activity in one important brain network, called the default mode network (DMN), in people at risk for depression–for example, those with a family history of major depressive disorder.

This pattern of hyperactivity in the DMN may be the neural basis of the “maladaptive rumination” contributing to cognitive vulnerability to depression. There’s also evidence that increased “functional connectivity” between the DMN and other brain networks may suppress activity in brain areas involved in generating a positive mood. 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.

 

South Australia’s youth mental health care services difficult to access

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mental health adelaide servicesIf you’re an at-risk youth in Adelaide suffering from psychosis, as of June 30, you may struggle to find the support services you desperately need.

Right now, headspace Adelaide offers a Youth Early Psychosis Program, that has treated around 40 patients since starting earlier this year. The evidence based program focuses on early recognition of more complex and potentially severe mental illness. They do this by supporting people at the preliminary stages of psychosis, a health issue that has one of the highest burdens of any mental illness. However, with early intervention and follow up care, the patients can manage their condition for the rest of their lives. headspace’s main goal is to keep people out of hospital and provide counselling and support from a range of mental health professionals, both at the centre and in the community as reported by SBS.

However, as of June 30, headspace can’t guarantee the service due to a lack of federal funding. “The headspace National Office received formal notification on April 19 that the federal government had decided to discontinue the implementation of the early psychosis model, based on the National Mental Health Commission’s review of mental health services,” headspace spokesperson Michael Bennett told SBS. “In order to implement this decision, we understand funding will cease for the headspace Adelaide site to take on new clients for this program on June 30.”

While there’s no guarantee the service will be available in the new financial year, Bennett acknowledged the support headspace has received over the years, from both sides of government, and the work they are still doing.

“We are working closely with the South Australian government, the South Australian Primary Health Networks and the Federal Department of Health to ensure that all existing clients receive on going care,” he said.

“Our purpose has always been to provide for the mental health needs – both complex and otherwise – of young people and we are encouraged by the Federal Health Minister’s statement that she will ensure all young people with complex mental health concerns are not denied treatment.”

In response to the news, Donna Symonds, a university student studying psychology, has launched the South Australian Youth Mental Health Action Group and a petition calling on the federal government to guarantee funding for the service. The change.org petition has already seen over 3,300 signatures from concerned members of the community with commenters voicing their anguish.

“We don’t say to people who are presenting with early stages of cancer, ‘go away and come back when your cancer has progressed and is more debilitating.’ – Cutting this service just doesn’t make sense!,” said one commenter.

While another exclaimed, “I lost my brother to mental illness! These services are crucial, especially for our youth!” 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. CLICK HERE to express your interest in the conference.

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.

Optimising CBT-I Treatment for Co-Morbid Insomnia and Depression

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cbt mental healthCognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is an efficacious treatment for primary insomnia, resulting in enduring and long-term sleep benefits. It is considered to be an effective treatment for insomnia that is co-morbid with substance abuse, medical and/or psychiatric conditions. Because of the overlap between insomnia, physical health, and psychological health, improving the sleeping quality through CBT-I in these individuals also often results in subsequent improvements in the co-morbid conditions.

Depression is a psychiatric condition that improves through CBT-I. However, the effect sizes of CBT-I are often smaller than those reported through CBT for other psychiatric disorders (Harvey & Tang, 2003). Furthermore, only 50% of the participants in one of the more successful CBT-I studies for co-morbid insomnia and depression remitted from insomnia (Manber et al., 2008). If this insomnia does not remit, then the depression is likely to relapse (Perlis et al., 1997), persist or worsen in severity over time (Staner, 2010). It is therefore essential to optimise the four CBT-I components for this population.

There is some debate over whether CBT-I should be administered in a group or individual format. Group work is thought to be potentially more cost-effective, although data on this are not yet conclusive (Tucker & Oei, 2007). A meta-analysis and review on group CBT in comparison to individual CBT for depression found significant reductions with both, although greater improvements with individual CBT (McDermut, Miller, & Brown, 2001).

Research findings for insomnia are similar, with the available evidence suggesting comparable improvements but slightly greater effect sizes for individual over group therapy (Espie et al., 2007). In general, individual therapy is preferred over group therapy (Meresman, Horowitz, & Bein, 1995), with up to 95% of patients on a wait-list given a choice of both electing to have individual therapy (Sharp, Power, & Swanson, 2004). A higher dropout rate is also evident in studies incorporating group therapy (McDermut et al., 2001). Consequently, the remainder of the review will discuss the components of an individual rather than group CBT-I intervention. To read more click here.

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.

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.