$1.5M NHMRC funding boost for workplace mental health
Published: 30 August, 2019
The Black Dog Institute has been recognised amongst Australia’s leading research organisations, with a successful project announced in the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.
Associate Professor Samuel Harvey has been awarded an Investigator Grant of $1,554,485 to support his important work in improving workplace mental health.
As an Emerging Leadership fellow, Associate Professor Harvey will investigate the relationship between work and mental health at every stage in the workers’ journey, to develop new evidence-based interventions to both treat and prevent common mental illness in the Australian workplace.
“Mental illness is now the leading cause of long-term sickness absence and disability benefits in Australia, with depression alone costing the Australian society $12.6 billion each year, primarily due to lost work productivity,” said Associate Professor Harvey.
“An increasing number of Australians are reporting that their work is making them mentally unwell, but at present there is very little research to guide any solutions to this widespread problem.
“While existing workplace mental health promotion activities are well-intentioned, the majority are not evidence-based, which presents a huge untapped opportunity to improve the population’s mental health at scale.
“This NHMRC funding will help us answer critical questions about how to identify and protect at-risk workers, and we hope it can also lead to the development and testing of a range of new workplace programs that can rapidly be translated from research into practical changes in our workplaces.”
The funding forms part of the NHMRC’s inaugural Investigator Grant scheme, which provides a five-year fellowship and project costs to support high-performing researchers.
Associate Professor Harvey is Chief Psychiatrist and Co-director of Discovery at the Black Dog Institute, where he also leads the Workplace Mental Health Research Program.
His team will test their model for creating more mentally healthy workplaces and aim to answer three key research questions:
- Which situations may precipitate mental ill health for some workers, and how to identify at-risk workers?
- Which interventions can help prevent or reduce mental health problems amongst workers?
- Given Australia’s aging population, how can retirement and exit from the workforce be managed to reduce the risk of subsequent mental health problems?
The NHMRC grants were announced by Federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt, as part of a total funding investment of over $440 million.
Several Black Dog-affiliated researchers were also successful in securing competitive NHMRC funding:
- Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell from UNSW Medicine, a Professorial Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, was awarded $2.4 million to help improve outcomes for youth at risk of bipolar disorder.
- Professor Gordon Parker AO, founder of the Black Dog Institute and Scientia Professor of Psychiatry at UNSW Sydney, was awarded $1.5 million for studies advancing the definition and treatment of the bipolar disorders.
- Scientia Professor Richard Bryant from UNSW Science, a Professorial Fellow at Black Dog Institute, received $2.7 million to help advance post-traumatic mental health.
- Associate Professor Alison Calear from the Australian National University (ANU), a Research Fellow with the Centre of Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP) at the Black Dog Institute, was awarded $1.2 million for her project ‘Connecting kids’, aimed at harnessing interpersonal connectedness to reduce suicide risk in youth.
Visit the NHMRC website for the full list of grant recipients.
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