Challenge: Depression and suicide
There is limited translation of what we know. Effective clinical application of available knowledge would lead to 23% reduction in burden due to depression (and other mental illness). A key component in reducing the prevalence of depression is the ‘translation’ into practice of what is already known. Progress in lowering depression prevalence over the next decade is more likely to be made by putting into practice what we already know rather than by developing new treatments. Targeting those individuals who are currently not in treatment or not optimally in treatment has been estimated to be able to avert disease burden by 23%, and thus would represent a major advance, if achieved.
- Integrated and practical delivery of evidence-based treatment information, frameworks and models across Australia using Information and communication technology (ICT) platforms delivering education, community education and online psychological therapies e.g. through online web programs.
- ICT is increasingly recognised as a driver and transformer of health practice, including in psychology and psychiatry. ICT can be effective in preventing and treating mental health conditions and the Internet serves as a platform to disseminate key content. This has great relevance everywhere but especially in regional and rural NSW where services are poor. Pervasive personal health devices, such as those mounted within mobile phones, can be used to collect individual data on risk factors, and thus offer potential to collect individual data and develop personalised, tailored programs delivered universally. The Internet also provides the opportunity for social connectedness, through social media sites, such as Facebook, tweets, emails and SMSs.
Challenge: Causes of depression
We do not understand the causes of depression and other mental health problems and how they relate to other diagnoses i.e. comorbidity, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, brain injury.
- A radical attempt to accelerate knowledge of new treatments for depression through basic neuroscience, creating the right conditions for new discovery (Collaboration).
- Re-purposing of current therapeutic models from other behavioural conditions to that of depression.
- One stop shop clinics for research, diagnosis and discovery.
Challenge: Early Intervention
We do not intervene early. To date, little effort has been expended in research designed to prevent mental health disorders or intervene early. Although translation gaps have been recognised for more than a decade, models to overcome these gaps are underdeveloped and rarely implemented.
- Research and clinical programmes will target:
personalisation of behavioural health through wearable devices and mobile phone technology
- Delivery of online evidence based interventions for substance abuse, dementia prevention and other conditions
- eHealth support for suicide prevention
- Identification of clinical and biological (e.g. genetic and brain imaging) features which predict high risk of the later onset of conditions such as psychotic or mood disorders or dementia, allowing for targeted early intervention / preventive programs.