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Mental health and neuroscience

We're committed to improving mental health care
Our schools, centres and initiatives bring together a diverse and extensive network of experts to enhance knowledge, prevention and treatment of mental illness.

Mental illness is a common source of disability in our communities. In Australia alone, it is estimated that 45 percent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

We conduct life-saving research in a number of mental illnesses – from discovering the different factors that contribute to mental illness to developing new drugs for treatment.

We're also creating innovative new ways to promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Mental health awareness is vital for improving the wellbeing of our communities. Better understanding and further education of what mental illness is, how it can be prevented and treated and how it’s linked to our health will help reduce this stigma and lead to more people seeking help.

Areas undertaking research in this theme

By bringing together experts from a number of schools and centres, the Faculty of Medicine and Health is able to take a multidisciplinary and holistic approach to mental health and neuroscience research. Find out about some of the work we're undertaking across the faculty:

Research highlights
  • Professor Ian Hickie and his team’s research into the use of e-mental health services by young Australians to manage anxiety and depression is giving young people the power to improve their own wellbeing and protect themselves from lifelong mental health problems.
  • Professor of Psychiatry at Royal North Shore Hospital, Gin Malhi has developed scans that detect early signs of depression and anxiety in young teenagers, before symptoms are apparent.
Key researchers

Learn more about research at the Sydney Medical School.

Neuroscience is one of the largest and most active areas of scientific research worldwide. This is strongly reflected in the diverse, multidisciplinary group of neuroscience researchers within the School of Medical Sciences.   

Recent highlights
  • We conduct research on alcohol and mental health, with a series of epidemiological investigations into the relationship between alcohol use and deliberate self-poisoning. We're also conducting an intervention study which aims to contribute to suicide prevention through targeting alcohol use in a group of people who present to hospital after deliberate self-poisoning.
Key researchers 

Learn more about research at the School of Medical Sciences.

Nurses are the largest professional group in the mental health workforce, which places them at the forefront of improving and providing effective mental health care.

We work with clients, their families, nurses, psychologists and other services to conduct research that will support recovery from mental health disorders.


In collaboration with national and international researchers and industry partners, our research is focused on three key areas of health policy and research priority:

  • Prevention and early intervention with at-risk groups (eg children and families living with mental illness).
  • Preventing and/or managing co-associated physical and mental health/illness (eg physical health of people with mental illness).
  • Developing the capacity of the health workforce (eg building capacity to manage challenging interpersonal health care situations).
Key researchers

Learn more about research at the Sydney Nursing School.

Drugs play a major part in the treatment of mental illness, giving pharmacists the potential to play a significant role in delivering treatment and services to mental health patients. 

The aim of our mental health research is to develop treatment for neurological diseases and increase the diversity of agents to investigate potential receptors and targets in treatment. 

  • The Ion Channel Drug Discovery team develops biological screening assays and identifies lead compounds and allosteric modulators that can be used to discover new drugs to treat mental health disorders. We're internationally recognised for our work on the structure and function of ligand-gated ion channels.
  • The Church Lab pursues the design of inhibitors of an enzyme in the kynurenine pathway which is implicated in schizophrenia. We have used the 3D-structure of the kynurenine aminotransferase-2 (KAT-2) enzyme to design novel and promising inhibitors.
  • Our translational research focuses on improving outcomes for consumers with mental health conditions. Our interprofessional approach is to build on the network of pharmacists in the wider healthcare system to lead and inform health care policy. This includes: 
    • optimising psychotropic medicines use in nursing homes
    • screening for mental health conditions in the community
    • facilitating medication adherence
    • implementing and evaluating strategies to reduce mental health stigma.
Key researchers

Learn more about our research at the Sydney Pharmacy School.

We aim to improve the situation for people with mental ill-health in Australia and our nearest regions, so they can experience active and meaningful lives as fully included members of the community. We achieve this objective by undertaking research that focuses on individual needs, by listening to people and learning from best practice.

We strongly value individuals and collaborate with people with mental ill-health to co-create research and develop high-quality research evidence which reflects their experiences. Our researchers are strongly connected to practitioners and policymakers working to make change and develop better service responses to meet individual needs.

Key researchers

Learn more about research at the Sydney School of Health Sciences.

Centres, institutes and groups

  • The Sydney Neuroscience Network brings together a team of researchers from across the University who are dedicated to collaborative research projects in neuroscience and mental health research and teaching.
  • The Brain and Mind Centre spans basic, pre-clinical, clinical and translational research across strong partnerships with industry, government, the community and other healthcare providers and research bodies.
  • The Centre for Disability Research and Policy brings together the University’s leading experts within the disability field to create a greater understanding of disability.
  • The Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use brings together world-leading researchers, clinicians and community to share skills, synergise data, harness new technologies and trial innovative programs for mental and substance use disorders.