Skip to main content
abstract image of coloured dots representing neurons

3.4 million for NHMRC mental health technology trial

1500 young people to trial a new model of care for mental health

With a $3.4 million NHMRC grant, BMC researchers will be able to offer clinicians the resources to provide more individualised, measurement-based care to young people in the early stages of major anxiety, depressive or other mood disorders.

The new trial, designed to provide higher quality and better experiences of care for young people in the early stages of major anxiety, depressive or other mood disorders, was awarded to the Brain and Mind Centre’s youth mental health collaboration with Orygen, Deakin University and the University of Notre Dame.

It is one of 30 trials awarded nationally by the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Clinical Trials and Cohorts Scheme, which aims to support high-quality clinical trials and cohort studies that address important gaps in knowledge and lead to implementable findings.

Addressing gaps in mental health care

Professor Ian Hickie, academic co-director of the Brain and Mind Centre’s Youth Mental Health and Technology stream, said the Youth Model of Care trial enabled by this grant addresses two significant gaps in mental health care.

It takes a systemic approach to mental health services that affords capacity to provide highly personalised care, while also addressing the more complex ‘multi-domain’ level of functioning of young people with mood disorders.

This focus on functioning – the social, emotional and organisational skills – of people with mood disorders is a departure from traditional, “symptoms-based” care.

“We know that young people’s mental health needs are unique, that they need to be supported with highly personalised care and that we need to be able to scale that individual care nationally.

"We also know that treating and monitoring a symptom, or a checklist of symptoms, can lead to mis-diagnosis, missed opportunities for care and to people dropping out of care.

"This study is an opportunity to test if a personalised health care package, combined with digitally supported, measurement-based care could become an essential tool for clinicians, and a model for Australia's mental healthcare system."

Putting youth at the centre of care

The five-year trial, due to begin early next year, is a collaborative partnership with Orygen, Deakin University and The University of Notre Dame.

It will give participating clinicians access to a digital health platform, which includes detailed assessment measures, longitudinal tracking and interactivity that introduces measurement-based care into real-time health care.

The program will be tested against standardised care by assessing the functional outcomes of young people with mood disorders.

“We have an opportunity to bring mental health care beyond the treatment of a checklist of symptoms. That approach has allowed too many young people to fall through the cracks,” Professor Hickie said.

This project represents one of five projects awarded to the University of Sydney under the NHMRC Clinical Trials and Cohorts Scheme, more than $10 million in funding for five new clinical trials in health and medical research projects.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Laurent Rivory said the grants are further recognition of the University's high-quality research.

"This is an impressive NHMRC result for our health and medical researcher community, and recognition of the positive impact of our research on the broader community", said Professor Laurent Rivory (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research).

The youth model of care clinical trial will begin early next year and recruit participants who are currently enrolled in a mental heatlh service seeking treatment for mood disorders.

Clinicians wishing to learn more should contact the Youth Mental Health and Technology team.