Funding boost for mental health support in schools

Researchers at The University of Western Australia have been awarded more than $17 million in federal funding for 11 research projects, including $236,437 to design a suite of tools, resources and guidelines to support principals, school counsellors and teachers respond to students’ social and emotional wellbeing and mental health needs.

The funding is part of today’s Federal Government announcement of more than $440 million to fund 298 new world-leading health and medical research projects through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Professor Sally Brinkman, a senior research fellow with the UWA-affiliated Telethon Kids Institute, will lead a team, in partnership with the South Australian Department for Education, supporting students’ social and emotional wellbeing and mental health within the education system. Telethon Kids Director Professor Jonathan Carapetis was also awarded $1.7 million for his research into eliminating rheumatic heart disease.

Nobel Prize-winning researcher Professor Barry Marshall, from UWA’s School of Biomedical Sciences, was awarded $276,863 for his Noisy Guts Project to develop an acoustic belt to non-invasively diagnose and monitor common gut disorders and diseases.

After demonstrating that the acoustic belt was able to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with 87 per cent accuracy, the team now aims to expand the belt’s capabilities to non-invasively and accurately diagnose and monitor other gut disorders such as Crohn’s, colitis and coeliac disease.

Dr Andre Schultz, a clinical senior lecturer in paediatrics from UWA’s Medical School and Telethon Kids Institute, will receive $1.4 million to prevent permanent disease in children with chronic wet cough.

The partnership project grant includes WA Department of Health Directorate of Aboriginal Health Policy, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service, Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service, Carbal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services Ltd, Top End Health Services, and Perth Children’s Hospital.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse, senior principal research fellow at Telethon Kids Institute, will receive $3.1 million to improve outcomes for children with autism while Professor Ryan Lister, from UWA’s School of Molecular Sciences, Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, was awarded $3.3 million to investigate natural and artificial regulation of the epigenome.

The research aims to advance understanding of epigenome regulation and our ability to manipulate the human epigenome and cell identity, with major outcomes for biomedical research and regenerative medicine.

Other projects to receive funding include the use and safety of prescription drugs of dependence in pregnancy, more healthy skin and healthier lives for Indigenous children, prevention and treatment of respiratory infection in children and further advances in glaucoma therapy.

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