Last month, the University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre partnered with Black Dog Institute, Everymind, the PREMISE NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention in Mental Illness and Substance Use, and The Prevention Hub to hold a landmark national event – the Leaders in Prevention Summit. The Summit aimed to shape national priorities for the prevention of anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders through research and implementation.
Anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders are substantial health, social, and economic challenges that frequently co-occur, share common risk factors, and interact. They have a considerable impact on people and communities, costing Australia over $43 billion annually. Australia needs a strategically integrated set of priorities for policy, research, and implementation to reduce these personal and economic costs. Delegates of the Leaders in Prevention Summit, including government representatives, advocacy groups, people with lived experience, researchers, funding partners, and other key stakeholders came together in a united effort to lay the foundations for these priorities.
Associate Professor Katherine Keyes opened the Summit with a thought-provoking keynote presentation exploring the mental health of American adolescents in the 21st century. Associate Professor Tim Slade followed with a discussion of trends over time in alcohol use and mental health in Australian adolescents. Two PREMISE Youth Advisory Board members, Martin Isidro and Cheryl Ou, then presented on principles and priorities for youth mental health and substance use research as identified by the Youth Advisory Board. Day One concluded with an interactive priority-setting activity facilitated by Associate Professor Cath Chapman.
Professor David Clark opened Day Two with a keynote presentation in which he shared implementation lessons from the English ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ programme, and National Mental Health Commissioner, Christine Morgan, provided an overview of Government reform initiatives to support evidence-based prevention of anxiety, depression and substance use disorders. Mr Tom Brideson followed with a presentation highlighting the importance of inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in every prevention priority. The final presentation was from Professor Cathy Mihalopoulos, who examined the latest research showing that investment in prevention makes good economic sense. The Summit closed with a panel discussion and Q&A co-chaired by Professor Maree Teesson and Professor Helen Christensen.
Outcomes from the Leaders in Prevention Summit will lay the foundations for a paper that will draw upon priorities identified by the delegates.
A big thank you goes to the Summit Organising Committee, Mr Simon Baker (Black Dog Institute), Ms Kate Ross (Matilda Centre), Dr Sally Fitzpatrick, (Everymind), Dr Louise Birrell (Matilda Centre), Dr Mark Deady (Black Dog Institute) and Associate Professor Nickie Newton (Matilda Centre) for their hard work pulling this event together.
Dr Katrina Prior from the Matilda Centre is working with young people to create an online intervention to prevent the exacerbation of comorbid anxiety and alcohol and help young people lead healthier lives.
Roughly 40% of people have experienced childhood adversity and subsequently, have a substantially greater risk of developing substance use problems than those who have not had these experiences.