9 Oct 2015

'Mental As': the week that was, & what's to come

The media profile for mental health and illness for the 2015 awareness week has been high and the Mental Health Foundation of Australia lists over 100 events in Victoria alone for October. Yet structural reform through government funding and policy is not sufficient to power the twin engines of mental health treatment and care - that is, research into the causes of conditions, and provision of primary health care services. The result is inadequate and fragmented mental health care services for the 1 in 5 adults who will suffer from a mental disorder in any given year.

The Monash Alfred Psychiatry research centre (MAPrc) was established by Professor Jayashri Kulkarni 25 years ago to investigate and treat mental disorders. MAPrc now has a research and clinical team of over 160 staff and graduate research students. Prof Kulkarni says, "Psychiatry is still a blunt instrument. Only with research can we understand what the specific causes of a condition might be and therefore be in a position to treat it effectively - if you don't know how something works in the first instance, how can you fix it?

"Women in particular are at risk, not necessarily because of their gender, but because women in general suffer the additional stresses of being both more poor and more discriminated against than men. Mental illnesses perhaps more than any others are influenced by and contribute to discrimination and poverty. So our research also includes consideration of reforming the provision of health services. MAPrc is not only about research, it's about translating the research into improved treatments."

This week's issue of the Central Clinical School blog is devoted to MAPrc's research and work. The research is clinically based and seeks participants. If you want to help, please see what research programs you might be interested in and eligible for, and the MAPrc staff will be pleased to hear from you!

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