Thousands of young people experiencing a mental illness will soon have greater access to quality care and treatment after a USQ-led research project was awarded $5 million in Federal Government funding.
Associate Professor Sonja March is spearheading the project to develop an online platform giving young people direct access to tailored mental health information and support.
About 560,000 young Australians experience a mental health issue each year, but only half seek help and only 3.3 per cent access specialist child and adolescent care.
The funding boost will build on Associate Professor March’s existing online cognitive behavioural therapy program for anxiety, BRAVE, which was launched in 2014 and has more than 33,000 users.
“The funding will enable us to develop a more comprehensive online platform that integrates detection, assessment and tailored interventions addressing common mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, substance use and sleep problems,” she said.
“We’re excited about the potential benefits that can be gained through digital intervention and believe this would offer a viable model of care for health services around Australia and the potential to reach many more thousands of young Australians.”
Associate Professor March said the grant from the Medical Research Future Fund’s new Million Minds Mission initiative was recognition of 18 years of hard work.
“There is so much great mental health research happening around the country, and I feel incredibly proud of the fact we can build on our previous efforts and deliver an online platform capable of improving the lives of young people,” she said.
The five-year project will be in partnership with local, state and national organisations and support agencies, including Kids Helpline, West Moreton Hospital Health Service, Darling Downs West Moreton Primary Health Network, Education Queensland and Aftercare.
Associate Professor March’s project team includes researchers from Griffith University, The University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Federation University and The Australian National University.
The initial program (BRAVE) was developed by Associate Professor March, Associate Professor Caroline Donovan and Professor Susan Spence.