Latest Insights 2018

General News Articles

October 2018 

Progress report: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan

The National Mental health Commission is pleased to release the first report on the progress of the implementation of the Fifth national Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. “Through working on this report, we have seen some great examples across Australia to deliver genuine improvements for people living with mental illness.”

Dual winners of the 2018 Australian Mental Health Prize announced.

Janne McMahon, an extraordinary mental health consumer advocate, and Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at UNSW, have been awarded this year’s Australian Mental Health Prize.

Mental health prize winner says ‘we still have a long way to go’ with treatment and services.’

After the death of a loved one two decades ago, Janne McMahon went through a dark period, but the experience also ignited her passion for giving those living with mental illness a voice.

September 2018 

Mental health: Australia’s most common ailment.

Australians are seeing their doctor to discuss mental health ailments more than any other issue, according to a new report by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. 

Framework specifically designed for students who are unsure how to access help.

Many students struggle with stress and other issues of mental health and are unsure how to access help. AMSA and Orygen have designed a framework to address the problem on a national level.

Health of the Nation: What our Politicians had to say

Three of Australia’s key decision makers spoke at the launch of the RACGP’s second annual Health of the Nation report in Canberra. 

As the largest medical college in Australia, the RACGP represents more than 39,000 practicing and training GP's all over the country. Its new General Practice: Health of the Nation 2018 report surveryed RACGP Fellows from all walks of life, states and territories, and from inner cities to remote Australia.

Technology advances and mental health.

This article discusses how a new brain research facility is using virtual reality to help people with addictions.

Closing the gaps in Australia’s mental health system.

WA’s chief psychiatrist has ordered a review of “significant gaps” in the mental health system in which patients with severe and complex mental illness end up in the justice system or at risk of serious harm.

Lack of regional services is taking its toll.

A lack of access to services is taking a toll on the mental well-being of young people in rural and regional areas, a new study shows.

“Men’s mental health is more on the societal radar these days – but less so in terms of fatherhood.“

This opinion piece explores the relationship between a father’s mental health and the effect it has on his children.

The personal cost caring for a family member or friend.

Caring for a family member or friend who has a mental illness is much more than a labour of love. Often these caring roles, by a spouse, a parent or even a child, come at the cost of education and employment opportunities.

Taking a ‘mental health day’ at work.

This article explores both the acceptability of taking a ‘mental health day’ from work, and the benefit a mental health day can have on your well-being.

August 2018 

Can architecture change the way you feel?

This article explores the relationship between built environments and the effect they can have on the mental health of people using the buildings.

The impact of legal representation in Queensland’s Mental Health Review Tribunal

The decisions of Australia’s various mental health review tribunals can have significant impact on people’s lives. This article examines the impact of legal representation in Queensland’s Mental Health Review Tribunal.

Early diagnosis and intervention

Whilst it is often said that early intervention into Serious Mental Illness is an important part of treatment and prevention, such intervention is not always easy. In particular, deciphering pro-dromal phenomena in adolescents can be difficult. This article explores some of the issues in this field. 

Positive impact treatment for teen depression can have on parents of a child receiving support

Adolescence can be a time of changing emotions and even distress. Depression may first emerge in adolescence. Treatment is not always successful, but often can make a difference. This article explores the positive impact treatment for teen depression can have on parents of a child receiving support.

Stolen Generation and physical and mental health

Members of the Stolen Generation fall behind on many measures of life-long physical health and mental health.

Future opportunities in treatment of schizophrenia

Few expressions of mental illness can be more discomforting than treatment-resistant schizophrenia. This article explores future opportunities for the treatment of this cohort of people. 

Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance?

This article explores the thorny issue of whether we should understand depression essentially as the expression of brain chemistry.

Links between climate change and mental health risks

The evidence about the mental health risks linked with climate change is mounting, presenting urgent opportunities to respond both locally and globally

Friends 'key' to helping those with mental illness quit smoking

How mental health can affect sleep habits

The Exercise that helps Mental Health the Most


As if having a mental illness was not enough… many people with mental illness have “co-morbidity” – the existence of another disease other than their mental illness. Typically this may be a substance abuse disorder. This brief article explores the occurrence of co-morbidity in people with mental illness.

Teenage girls, sexual assault and mental illness

This important article examines the prevalence of mental illness in teenage girls who have suffered sexual assault. Alarmingly, the article finds that up to 80% of girls in this context suffer mental illness.

Green spaces boost mental health

This article comes to the interesting conclusion that green spaces within a city context can boost the mental health outcomes of people taking advantage of these spaces.

Combating mental illness among the elderly

Older Australians battling anxiety and depression will be the focus of sorely-needed research designed to save lives. The federal government and beyondblue are each contributing $2.5 million towards a range of new projects aimed at combating mental illness among the elderly. 

Media equating mental illness with violence

All too often the popular media conflates mental illness with violence, embedding stigma and discriminatory attitudes. This article makes a case against this kind of reporting.

Effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, has in the past decade become a standard tool for helping people with schizophrenia deal with their symptoms. Recent developments, however, raise serious questions about how effective this talking therapy really is for this illness.

Lifting the Weight Report

Young people living in regional and remote Australia are being let down by a lack of support services to tackle their mental health needs. Mission Australia and ReachOut recently released a report titled Lifting the weight: understanding young people’s mental health and service needs in regional and remote Australia.

Goulburn-Yass some of highest suicide rates in NSW

A draft mental health report has identified the Goulburn-Yass area as experiencing some of the highest rates of suicide in the state. The draft Regional Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan has revealed Goulburn – Yass, Shoalhaven, South Coast and Snowy Mountains experience “particularly high rates and spikes” of suicide.

July 2018 

Young people and schizophrenia recovery

A must-read article suggesting that recovery rates from schizophrenia for young people may be much higher than previously thought.

First responders say mental health not supported

Mental health issues suppressed, ignored, say first responders on eve of Senate inquiry. 

Creativity and mental health

Researchers have long been fascinated by the potential link between creativity and mental health — here's why it seems like visionaries are more at risk.

The Problem With Studies Claiming Artists Have Higher Rates of Mental Illness

Do mental health apps lead to over-diagnosis?

Using technology to help support people’s mental health makes sense. There are literally hundreds of mental health-related apps available for smartphones and computers. But how do these technologies portray mental illness, and what kind of models of mental health do they espouse? These and other questions are discussed in this article..

Pregnancy stress and depression

A new study finds that stress during pregnancy can lead to anxiety and depression in adulthood.

Physical fitness and mental illness

UNSW Scientist Fellow Dr Simon Rosenbaum from UNSW's School of Psychiatry discusses his research into physical fitness and mental illness.

Survey reveals lack of mental health understanding in regional areas

Sex Addiction Now Officially Considered Mental Illness - WHO

June 2018  

7% SA kids suffering extreme levels of psychological distress

More than 27,000 South Australian children are suffering very high to extreme levels of psychological distress and are at considerable risk of long-term mental health problems, new research from the University of South Australia has revealed.

Access to mental health help is now dangerously low in Vic

Two decades ago, Victoria was lauded as a world leader in specialist mental health services, but access to help is now dangerously low, a new report warns, blaming two decades of underspending.

Self-diagnosis of mental illness

A patient’s self-evaluation of mental health problems may be more accurate than previously thought according to new research out of Purdue University.

Blaming men for their mental health issues

This article considers common opinions around men’s mental health; particularly the tendency to blame men for the mental health issues they experience.


A timely and open discussion about suicide 

Spiritual practice might help

Spiritual practice may help people with mental health disorders.

May 2018 

Job strain linked to onset of mental illness

Employers that actively seek to reduce job strain could also help curtail new cases of mental illness, according to the results of one recent study.

Small steps can lead to big change in curbing mental illness in the workplace

On a similar issue of mental health in the workplace, this Canadian article examines how some relatively small steps by employers can lead to significant changes in the mental wellness of staff. 

Good outcomes science budget 2018

With the Federal Budget fresh in our memories, this article examines some of the winners in the field of mental health research.

Crackdown on seclusion and restraint in NSW mental health units

NSW mental health units and emergency departments will be subject to tougher targets and mandatory public reporting to cut the alarming rates of psychiatric patients kept in seclusion or physically restrained.

Reality behind statistics for young people with a history of mental illness and trauma

This timely article explores some of the statistics, and the reality behind the statistics, for young people with a history of mental illness and trauma. 

Rural children and those with pets may have lower risk of mental illness

Children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and might be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers, according to new research.

Physical activity can prevent depression

Physical activity can prevent depression, across all ages and around the world, a new study has found. You may have heard before that exercise can help with mental health. Now, a big international study has the numbers to show it can actually prevent depression from developing in the first place.

Why isn't treatment for eating disorders funded properly?

Statistics show that anorexia has the highest death rate of all psychiatric illness. This article questions why treatment isn’t funded properly.

April 2018 

Inflammation linked to brain development

Inflammation caused from infection, injury and even poor diet during pregnancy may impact parts of a baby's brain associated with working memory, an international study has found.

Mental disorders are in top 3 causes of illness in children

Mental disorders are now among the leading causes of illness in children worldwide, according to new research out of Europe.

Mariah Carey's bipolar disorder disclosure matters and how talking about mental illness can help

The five-time Grammy winner Mariah Carey revealed she’d quietly struggled with bipolar disorder since her 2001 diagnosis

Current housing policy is failing the homelessness and mentally ill

A new study by Macquarie University and the Matthew Talbot Hostel Clinic reveals how the current housing policy is contributing to the problems of homelessness and mental illness. According to the research done by Macquarie University with the Matthew Talbot Hostel Clinic run by the St Vincent de Paul Society, mental illness is a serious problem among the homeless, which can be addressed by making available more low cost housing and alternative housing models.

More teens die by suicide than car crashes

Suicide has passed traffic accidents and cancer as the leading cause of teenage deaths in Queensland  for the third year in a row, prompting calls for improved mental health services.

2 new treatments for auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH)

FLORENCE, Italy — Schizophrenia patients with auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) that have not responded to treatment may experience improvement with two cutting-edge techniques, new research shows.

How compassion can triumph over toxic childhood trauma

Adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can have a serious impact on people suffering these experiences. However, this articles suggests this impact may be reduced by living in a compassionate environment.

Personal story of a Neuroscientist who studies mental illness

“I've studied mental illness my entire career. Yet when I began my descent into the very same sort of madness that I'd researched, I had no idea what was happening. This is the story of my journey into insanity—and back.”

March 2018 

James Packer's admission highlights the need for better mental health awareness

This week James Packer stepped down from the board of Crown Resorts and, with great honesty acknowledged that this was due to mental ill health. We have seen prominent sports people and politicians disclose before, but Mr. Packer is one of the first top business leaders to do so. In doing so he has shown leadership and courage, which will encourage many others.

Mental Health Tribunal and Compulsory Treatment Orders

Sydney Morning Herald article about recent research into the Mental Health Tribunal and compulsory treatment orders. It introduces a man by the name of John Myers, who receives a compulsory anti-psychotic treatment monthly, without his consent.

For an alternate viewpoint see the research into the effectiveness of CTOs
Community treatment orders increase community care and delay readmission while in force: Results from a large population-based study
Anthony Harris, Wendy Chen, Sharon Jones, Melissa Hulme, Philip Burgess, Grant Sara - Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, February 2018, SAGE Publishing - DOI: 10.1177/0004867418758920

What is the best treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a serious, highly disabling mental health condition and there have been questions about which is the best drug to treat it. This hasn’t been helped by pharmaceutical marketing which may have muddied the water.
A study of 18,000 people with bipolar disorder followed for over seven years has assessed which are the most effective medications.

Heavy smoking and risk of developing psychosis

A new study links heavy smoking to the possible risk of developing psychosis.

NDIS anguish for many with severe mental illness

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a major reform in both the disability and mental health sectors. On full roll-out it is expected that some $22 billion per year will be spent on the scheme. However some evidence suggests that the NDIS has not been working to a sufficient level of competency for many participants.

Knitting can reduce anxiety, depression, chronic pain

Some recent evidence suggests Knitting can reduce anxiety, depression, chronic pain and slow dementia.

Friendship groups can help guard against bullying 

This article about schoolyard bullying suggests that having a strong friendship group can a help a child build resilience and lead to better mental health outcomes.

Treatment of customers with mental health challenges

Former insurance executive Patrick O’Connor has gone on the record in support of a probe into the treatment of customers with mental health challenges.

Links between childhood trauma and schizophrenia symptoms

People with schizophrenia may now benefit from more effective, tailored treatments and greater self-empowerment, thanks to research establishing a link between childhood trauma and some of schizophrenia's most common symptoms

Stem cells revealing new secrets about mental illness

In this fascinating article, scientists who have been working with stem cells and human brain cells discuss some of their research outcomes; particularly possible implications for mental illness located in the brain.

February 2018 

Study of teen mental health education program

Adolescents have the highest incidence and prevalence of mental illness across the lifespan, yet the lowest engagement with treatment services, in comparison to other age groups  This can make it very difficult for parents or concerned adults to engage with an adolescent whose mental health they are concerned about. However, there does appear to be evidence that adolescents are more likely to interact with their friends and peer groups. This study aims to investigate how peer groups can be engaged to better the mental health outcomes of young people facing mental illness, through targeted education.

The impact of little things 

Evidence suggests that there are a number of key phenomena that help people with mental health issues progress towards recovery. This paper takes the interesting approach at looking at the impact of “little things”; the impact of what they call “micro-affirmations”. Micro-affirmations may range from an offhand positive comment from staff to the achievement of small personal goals. This article seeks the patient’s perspectives on how small things have helped them on their recovery journey.

Pets and mental health

Any pet owner will tell you – having a pet can increase your well-being. Be it the companionship, the fun or the unconditional love, pets can have a positive impact. But what about people with mental illness? This report seeks to synthesise the evidence regarding companion animals and the impact they can have on people with mental illness.

Stigma and nursing students

Everyone knows it. People with mental health conditions suffer stigma. This stigma may range from a mild disapproval of a person’s thoughts, feelings or behaviour, through to a complete stigmatic response, blaming the victim for being abnormal, weird, weak or dangerous. This paper seeks to explore stigmatised beliefs around mental illness held by tertiary-training nursing students.


Academic Research Articles

October 2018

Association between early incarceration and adverse mental health outcomes.

There is growing evidence that incarceration is associated with adverse health outcomes, but little is known about how circumstance surrounding incarceration relates to health. In this present study, the effect of timing of incarceration on mental health is estimates using panel date constructed from the Danish population registry.

A study on mindfulness and mental health.

Mindfulness is a meditative technique that has been recommended widely in the management if certain mental illnesses. This article attempts to measure the effectiveness of mindfulness based interventions using randomized control trials.

Involuntary mental health treatment

The introduction of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRDP) had generated considerable debate regarding the assertion that people with disabilities arising from mental health conditions always possess decision-making capacity.
This article explores the relationship between involuntary mental health treatment for mental illness and the CRDP.

Spirituality Review

This article seeks to gather the concepts, theories and interventions about spirituality, its nature and functions in mental health and psychiatric nursing.

September 2018

Mental illness or extreme variants of personality?

Researchers have found that the signals in people's brains differ depending on a particular aspect of an individual's personality, termed Schizotypy, a discovery that could improve the way schizophrenia is characterised and treated. 
The study, "Attenuated post-movement beta rebound associated with schizotypal features in healthy people," published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, was led by the University of Nottingham and the findings suggest that many mental illnesses may be thought of as extreme variants of a normal personality.

The importance of hope.

Hope may have an undervalued effect in mental health. This article examines the effect of “hope training” on the mental health of a cohort of elderly people.

New breakthrough in Neuroscience research linking immune cells and Schizophrenia.

In one of the biggest breakthroughs in schizophrenia research in recent times, Professor Cynthia Shannon Weickert at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) has identified immune cells in greater amounts in the brains of some people with schizophrenia. The study published in Molecular Psychiatry has the potential to transform global schizophrenia research and open new avenues for developing targeted immune cell therapies.

Better care for outpatients of mental health.

These British experts in mental health seek to reform mental health care, particularly for patients post-discharge from hospital without burdening practitioners with paperwork, allowing for better care. Should Australia be taking notes?

What would influence your decision to trial new medication? 

Despite the availability of numerous antipsychotic medications, many patients with schizophrenia continue to experience side effects that contribute to the overall burden of the illness. 
The present survey of patients living with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder is aimed to assess patient attitudes toward antipsychotic treatment and understand key factors about willingness to try a new medication.

August 2018

How young people are currently using mental health apps on their smartphones

Two facts: teenagers today are highly literate in social media and smartphones, and there have been a number of mental health support Apps designed for smartphones. This article examines the relationship between these two facts – how young people are currently using mental health Apps on their smartphones.

Using social media to assess stigma levels and highlight new trends

There are numerous campaigns targeting mental health stigma. However, evaluating how effective these are in changing perceptions is complex. Social media may be used to assess stigma levels and highlight new trends. This study uses a social media platform, Twitter, to investigate stigmatising and trivialising attitudes across a range of mental and physical health conditions.

Using rhythmic music to help mental health

Music may be the language of the soul, but it may also help people managing co-morbid drug abuse and mental health problems. This article looks at the use of rhythmic music to help people with these challenges.

Influence of parental mental illness

Individuals who have lived with childhood parental mental illness are at increased risk of developing mental health concerns. Yet there is limited knowledge about how a person’s childhood experiences of parental mental illness may influence their subsequent parenting roles. This article explores these issues.

July 2018

Mental health and asylum seekers

The treatment of asylum seekers in Australia is a touchy issue. Passions run high on all sides of the debate, but a bipartisan consensus seems to have emerged that we need to be ‘tough on boat people’. All too often, however, the individual impact that exclusionary practices have are not seen or reported. This article tracks some of the mental health outcomes for people seeking asylum in Australia.

Stress of caring for someone with cancer

Cancer is a terrible and all-too-frequent disease. Often the intensity of suffering by the person with cancer can obscure the emotional work and support given by care-givers. This article examines the stress, coping and lived experience of carers for someone with cancer in palliative care.;year=2018;volume=24;issue=3;spage=313;epage=319;aulast=Antony

Use of smartphone technology to support mental health consumers

One of the “frontiers” of contemporary mental health service lies in the use of technology to support peoples’ mental health. This article explores one such technological approach – the use of smartphone technology to support mental health consumers.

Co-morbid mental illnesses

Mental illnesses like schizophrenia are often co-morbid with other diseases. Typically a person with lived experience of schizophrenia might develop heart disease, insulin resistance, diabetes or obesity. Less attention has been paid, however, to co-morbid mental illnesses. 

June 2018

Health apps study

A large number of health apps are available directly to consumers through app marketplaces. Little information is known, however, about how consumers search for these apps and which factors influence their uptake, adoption, and long-term use. The aim of this study was to understand what people look for when they search for health apps and the aspects and features of those apps that consumers find appealing.

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy

Although it may be something of a buzzword, the term “mindfulness” has worked its way into psychological practice in Australia. This article examines how “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” may help in the treatment in a range of mental illnesses.

Technology to Monitor Moods

The cutting edge in mental health treatment and support may not be in new psychopharmaceuticals, but in new technology. This interesting article looks at the use of Apps and similar technology in monitoring people for abnormal or uncomfortable mood to improve health and well-being.

Lack of accessible rural mental health services

It is an unfortunate truth that the accessibility and quality of mental health services suffer in rural and remote Australia. This article examines some of the consequences of this gap, and along the way makes some recommendations about exercise and mental health.

How integrated mental health care may be established in rural medical services

The front-line for mental health problems reported in rural and regional Australia is the GP. This article examines how integrated mental health care may be established in rural and regional medical services.

Mental illness and climate change

Taking two phenomena that may not appear to be linked, this fascinating article plots the impact of mental illness due to climate change.

May 2018

Different forms of mental health interventions in schools

Mental illness can strike at a young age. Teenagers, and perhaps even children, can exhibit early signs of serious mental illness. Some may experience depression or anxiety. In light of this problem, some people advocate better mental health interventions in schools, to catch problems early and teach resilience and understanding to young people. This article critically considers a number of different forms of intervention.

Peer support for youth in distress

On the similar theme of mental illness amongst youth and young adults, this article considers some of the ways a peer support role can help out those in distress. The article canvasses a number of relevant issues, including how the peer support worker role is defined and supported, and what sort of outcomes can and should be expected once peer support is implemented as a service.

Stigma and coming out online

One of the most important, though not easiest, ways to help reduce the stigma of serious mental illness is to “come out” in front of an audience and be open about one’s condition. But what happens when the coming out is online, and the audience are the users of social media such as Facebook or Twitter? This article explores these kind of questions. 

April 2018

Social Factors affecting Personality Disorders 

Personality disorders are amongst the least understood of mental illnesses. This interesting study delves into the world of personality disorders and asks what social factors may be involved in their development.

Efficacy of “mindfulness”-based meditative practice

There is a growing body of evidence that meditation, or meditative practice, may improve mental health and wellbeing. This article sifts through some of the evidence for the efficacy of “mindfulness”-based meditative practice. 

Ways mental illness can affect children of a parent with mental illness

Mental illness can bear a heavy burden on any family, in many different ways. This article looks at some of the ways having a parent with mental illness can affect children of that parent.

March 2018

Impact of fly-in fly-out work

Fly-in fly-out work involves workers commuting long distances to the worksite and living in provided accommodation for 1–4 weeks while on shift. While the potentially detrimental impact of this work on the health and well-being of workers has been documented, little attention has been paid to how workers, or their partners, cope with this impact. This study sought to investigate how workers and their partners negotiate the impact of fly-in fly-out work on their mental health and well-being.

Patient safety in mental health

It is a story oft-told, but little heeded. There is, by proportion of those with illness, too much attention paid to physical healthcare and insufficient attention paid to mental health care. And evidence suggests that the lessons of good physical health care does not apply well to mental health care. This study seeks to overcome these problems by seeking to identity future research priorities in the fields of patient safety in mental health.

Have you heard of the SDGs?

They are called the Sustainable Development Goals, and they were adopted by world leaders in 2015. Importantly the goals included a clause that refers to mental illness: a commitment to prioritise  “prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases, including behavioural development and neurological disorders, which constitute a major challenge to sustainable development”. In other words, these leaders have recognised the importance of good mental health to broader goals in sustainable development. This article looks at these issues in depth.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be a serious challenge for the many people who may suffer it at some time in their lives. It can lead to tiredness, insomnia, irritability and sub-par aptitude at work and daily activities. However, there may be a darker side to sleep apnea. This article explores the growing evidence of links between sleep apnea, disturbed sleep and possible mental illness.

February 2018

MH impact on carers of those living with schizophrenia

Mental illness can be frightening, difficult and challenging experience for people experience the illness. People need treatment and love and support. However, it is a little less clear how mental illness can impact upon the lives and well-being of care-givers. In light of this issue, this article seeks to examined the burden of care, quality of life and mental health of people caring for a loved one with schizophrenia.