Research profile


Dr Christina Marel

Almost everyone will have experienced, or know someone struggling with, mental health issues. We take a look at what the funding from the Society for Mental Health Research has helped researchers achieve. Here with Dr Christina Marel, from the University of Sydney.”

Hi Christina, could you tell us a little about your research program?

My research aims to improve our understanding of, and response to, co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders in complex populations.

What have you been able to achieve during your fellowship?

I have been examining the diverse and challenging journeys people make through recoveries from heroin dependence. In particular, I have been investigating the impact of treatment and significant life events (such as employment, marriage, birth of children, and deaths of loved ones) on pathways of heroin use.

What impact has your research had?

I have lead the development of national guidelines on the management of mental health conditions in alcohol and other drug treatment settings. The Guidelines aim to provide alcohol and other drug (AOD) workers with up-to-date, evidence-based information on the management of comorbid mental health conditions in AOD treatment settings. They are based on the best available evidence and draw upon the experience and knowledge of clinicians, researchers, consumers, and carers.

Is there anything you may have not been able to do without the funding?

These achievements would not have been possible without the funding from SMHR.

What are the broader implications of your research?

The guidelines are currently being disseminated across Australia to all AOD services, TAFE’s and universities, and an online training program is in development. This research has the potential to guide more effective interventions and public health responses to substance use and mental health disorders.

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