Black Dog Institute Director receives top Australian honour
Published: 4 February, 2019
Scientia Professor Helen Christensen, Director and Chief Scientist at the Black Dog Institute, was named as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) at the Australia Day Honours held on Saturday 26 January 2019.
Professor Christensen is a is a highly innovative scientist and a world leader in e-health, using technology to deliver evidence-based interventions for the prevention and treatment of depression, anxiety, suicide, and self-harm.
She was recognised for her distinguished contributions to health, medical research, policy and practice in the area of internet-based interventions for mental illness. These contributions have not only led the research field internationally, but have greatly improved the lives of many, many Australians living with mental health issues.
Professor Christensen continues to inspire the next generation of mental health research, particularly through the exploration of digital, smartphone and online technologies.
Striving to change the face of mental health for Australian youth
Since taking up the role of Director of the Institute, Professor Christensen has passionately pursued the delivery of preventative strategies for youth mental health problems in Australia.
In 2019, the Black Dog Institute will begin The Future Proofing Study, where smartphone technologies will be used to collect, analyse and deliver prevention interventions to 20,000 year 8 students over a 5-year period as part of a ground-breaking large scale randomised controlled trial (RCT). The study will investigate how we can prevent depression, and for whom.
Helen and her team believe prevention is better than cure. By harnessing science, the aim is to prevent depression and anxiety in young people, creating a brighter future for them.
Continuing to implement an evidence-based approach to suicide prevention
Professor Christensen is committed to changing the rates of suicide and suicide attempts in her own country. This has led to a data driven, evidence-based approach to integrated suicide prevention.
She is the Chief Investigator of LifeSpan, a research trial that has been rolled out in five trial sites across NSW and the ACT. LifeSpan combines 9 evidence-based strategies into one community-led approach, tailored to each local context and community.
The success of the LifeSpan trials to date has led to an adapted model of the program being delivered to more locations across Australia which will continue to grow in 2019.
Paving the way for the next generation of research
A true passion for Professor Christensen lies within the mentoring and development of Early Career Researchers.
She is currently the lead of the Centre for Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP), which aims to prevent suicide by training and working alongside research students and post-doctoral researchers. With a hands on approach, Professor Christensen is helping to develop the next group of individuals who will make major leaps and bounds in suicide prevention in the coming years.
If you or someone you know is in crisis please call one of the following national helplines:
LIFELINE COUNSELLING SERVICE - 13 11 14
SUICIDE CALL BACK SERVICE 1300 659 467 (cost of a local call)