Mental Health Research

Each year, one in five Australians will experience symptoms of a mental illness.

Our mental health researchers work alongside Liverpool Hospital Mental Health Centre – one of the largest mental health facilities in NSW – to transfer their findings directly into clinical practice and patient care.

Our flagship programs in mental health research

Our Schizophrenia Research Unit is looking into ways to reduce the negative physical health effects linked with anti-psychotic medications. The team has identified lifestyle and life-skills training that can help reduce weight gain in young people who are taking anti-psychotic medications.

Researchers from our Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry are investigating the genetic characteristics of Tourette’s syndrome, as well as the early identification and treatment of developmental disorders like autism. This has led to the publication of a world first study on the group delivery of the Early Start Denver Model for autism and behavioural symptoms.

Meanwhile, the Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit is finding ways to improve the quality of life for those affected by other mental health issues. Its research leader, Professor Derrick Silove, has been recognised and awarded for his work in refugee and post-conflict mental health.

The Mental Health Academic Unit (MHAU) in South West Sydney includes well established research groups covering perinatal, infant, child, and adolescent mental health including neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. Autism, Tourette Syndrome), attachment, separation anxiety, early intervention and models of care; physical health in mental health, screening and intervention models for cardio-metabolic effects of second generation antipsychotics; as well as intimate partner violence in refugees and those from conflict affected areas. All units also share an interest in promoting access to mental health services, knowledge translation, and evidence-based care.

The MHAU is a collaboration of clinicians and researchers from the South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) working alongside the University of New South Wales (UNSW). The MHAU seeks to understand the biological and environmental aetiology, epidemiology, clinical features and management of psychiatric and psychological disorders, and their interface with mental health services. The unit also focuses on capacity building for health professionals interested in mental health, particularly in supporting research projects and ensuring research is embedded into everyday practice in the LHD.

To find out more and to get involved please contact: lana.lahifi@health.nsw.gov.au

Specific research interests within MHAU include:

  • Autism, Tourette, OCD and Neurodevelopmental Disorders – Prof Eapen, UNSW and SWSLHD
  • Physical health in mental health, screening for cardio-metabolic side effects of antipsychotics – Prof Ward, UNSW and SWSLHD
  • Intimate partner violence among women from refugee and conflict affected areas – Associate Professor Rees, UNSW
  • Genetic psychiatry, suicide prevention, neurodevelopmental disorders – Dr Lin, UNSW and SWSLHD
  • Perinatal Depression – A/Prof Stephen Matthey
  • Perinatal early intervention including parenting, disruptive behaviour disorders – Dr Jane Kohlhoff
  • Child psychology, mental health systems – Dr Mendoza Diaz, SWSLHD and UNSW
  • Bayesian statistics, research methods – Dr Klein, SWSLHD and UNSW
  • Frequentist statistics, research methods – Dr Mohsin, SWSLHD and UNSW
  • Integration of mental health services into primary care – Dr. Hasan, SWSLHD and UNSW

To learn more about the MHAU, click here.

Group Leader

Professor Valsamma Eapen

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The Psychiatry Research and Teaching Unit (PRTU) was established in 1991 following the appointment of the Foundation Chair in Psychiatry, UNSW Australia and the South Western Sydney Area Health Service in 1990.

Since establishment the PRTU (and the Centre for Population Mental Health Research) has attracted over 50 collaborative research and project grants exceeding $20m and has published over 300 publications, many in high-ranking journals such as the Lancet and JAMA. It has also been a partner on two 5 year NHMRC Program Grants (2004-; 2010-2014) involving all the leading researchers in the country in the field of traumatic stress.

The PRTU is regarded nationally and internationally as a leading research and training centre in the interrelated fields of transcultural, refugee, post-conflict, posttraumatic and disaster mental health and the mental health of developing countries. In addition, the group has been involved in supporting student and registrar teaching, clinical service development, information system management and international development work.

Group Leader

Professor Derrick Silove

The Ingham Institute Schizophrenia Research Unit conducts research into the causes of, and better treatments for patients suffering from schizophrenia and other major mental disorders.

The Unit’s primary academic partner is the School of Psychiatry, UNSW Australia with major collaborative links with a range of other research groups, including the Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, (Macquarie University), the Priority Centre for Brain & Mental Health Research (University of Newcastle), Brain and Mind Research Institute, (University of Sydney) and the Laboratory for Neuro Imaging (University of California, Los Angeles).

A major focus for the group has been recruitment of help-seeking young people for the ‘Minds in Transition’ study that aims to identify the neurocognitive correlates of transition to psychosis, supported by a five year NHMRC project grant.

Group Leader

Professor Philip Ward

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