Welcome from the president

Frances - profile pic 2019 social media.jpg

Mental health is relevant to every single Australian and New Zealander. Mental ill-health affects us all in some way and influences every chronic health condition.  Mental health problems do not discriminate, with their effects felt regardless of background or status. Striking in the prime of life and especially with the onset in young adults, it has a much more serious effect on the economy than any other medical disease.  Mental health and substance use disorders cost Australian workplaces over $11 billion every year in absenteeism, reduced productivity, and compensation claims, across all industries.  Recently, the OECD has estimated that for every 10% gain in mental health, GDP would rise by 0.4%.   For all of the advantages of the Australian healthcare system, it is seriously failing people with mental ill-health and their families.

Research is fundamental to developing and implementing effective mental health interventions and initiatives to address these issues.  Thanks to medical research, mortality and recovery rates in cancers and cardiovascular diseases have significantly improved, there are earlier and improved diagnostics and safer, more personalised treatments that have transformed the lives of people living with these diseases.  These battles are yet to be won in mental illness. 

The Society for Mental Health Research is on a mission to win this battle.  Research is the key to changing this situation for mental health and ill-health, and it is the pathway to better knowledge, detection, treatment, and recovery.  

Our researchers work across the spectrum of science, discovery, and translation in mental health and ill-health.  We are uncovering causes of mental ill-health, identifying ways to improve mental health and wellbeing across the lifespan, preventing mental ill-health (including suicide and alcohol/other drug use) in our young people, and working hard to develop and test new, improved, more personalized, and effect early interventions, treatments, and recovery programs that can be delivered anywhere and at anytime. researchers outperform their colleagues in cancer, heart disease, and immunology, and produce outcomes that are immediately translatable into real world, human settings.  And we do all of this on less money and investment in research than any other medical disease area.  It is estimated that 300 times more money is donated from the private and corporate sector to cancer research than to mental health research. Imagine what we could do with equal investment in mental health research.

Now, more than ever, there is hope and opportunity for people experiencing mental ill-health, our families, and our communities.  This is a hugely exciting phase for mental health research and growth in knowledge in our region and I encourage all researchers and those with an interest in mental health to engage with the Society for Mental Health Research and work together to make mental health for all a reality within our lifetime. 

As President of the Society for Mental Health Research, I welcome all researchers across all of health to join with us to help unlock the keys to prevention, treatment, and recovery in mental ill-health, and the promotion and maintenance of mental health.  I welcome people with a lived experience of mental ill-health, their friends, families, and communities to join with us in designing better and more relevant research questions, interventions, and outcomes…that really matter to you. I also welcome clinicians, other service providers, policy makers, and key stakeholders in mental health and illness to join with us to help ensure that the evidence base and high quality research is reflected in our practice, service provision, State and Federal policies and guidelines, and key decisions and planning about mental health service provision across  Australia and New Zealand.  I also welcome other professional bodies and Societies, mental health charities and organisations to work with us to achieve these goals. By rallying together, with a united vision and purpose, we can achieve real and sustained change in Australia and New Zealand for mental health and ill-health, and the lives of people experiencing mental ill-health and their families and communities.

So, please, reach out to us and follow our achievements via Facebook, twitter, and Instagram.  Engage with us at our annual conference to learn about what we are doing, and to help us understand what we need to do. Support our fundraising efforts for mental health research by investing directly into mental health research projects carried out by our members.  And make sure your local Members of State and Federal Parliament know how important mental health research is to you.

I look forward to working with you all.

Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin