University of New England to lead mental health research

The University of New England is set to become a regional hub for mental health research, thanks to a $4.8 million Collaborative Research Network (CRN) project announced today.

Launching the CRN for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Rural Regions project in Armidale today, Parliamentary Secretary for Higher Education and Skills, Sharon Bird, said the University of New England will work to build world-class research capacity and deliver outcomes in mental health.

“The project will tackle pressing national issues such as high rates of suicide in regional areas, disabilities and sexual health,” Ms Bird said.

“Australians living in rural and regional Australia are often faced with drought, flood, unemployment, social isolation and barriers to mental health care services.

“Left untreated, mental health can reduce the wellbeing of rural and regional communities and undermine their resilience and sustainability.

“The research this new initiative will provide will help deliver tangible outcomes to regional communities.”

Member for New England, Tony Windsor, said the project was a great opportunity for the University of New England.

“This initiative will see the University of New England work closely with partner universities - La Trobe University, University of Newcastle, University of New South Wales and University of Sydney – as well as the Hunter New England Area Health Service,” Mr Windsor said.

“The project will play a key role in positioning the University of New England as a regional hub for mental health research.”

Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans, said the project will lead to direct improvements in the lives of regional Australians.

“The work done as part of this project will be critical in developing an understanding of the rural health workforce, individual self-care, disabilities, health and inclusion, as well as the capacity of biomedical science to better lead to diagnosis and treatment in regional areas,” Senator Evans said.

“This targeted research will lead to practical applications in regional communities – and deliver sustainable improvements in health issues that impact people in regional areas across Australia.

The Australian Government is investing $61.5 million in 12 CRN projects across Australia, in fields such as health, medicine, science and research.