Tag Archives: depression

emergency services health

Mental health emergency

World-first research by beyondblue and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC will invite up to 20,000 current and former personnel from 34 police and emergency organisations across Australia to participate in a survey about their mental health and risk of suicide.

As part of the National mental health and wellbeing study of police and emergency services, beyondblue is working closely with employers, personnel and their families on practical strategies to improve the mental health of police and emergency services workers and volunteers.

It is the first time data is being collected on a national scale from police and emergency service organisations. The emergency services health research is being conducted in three phases after qualitative analysis was gathered in phase one last year.

From August 2017, police and emergency service workers will be surveyed about their wellbeing; common mental health conditions; suicide risk; stigma; help-seeking behaviour; and factors supporting, or jeopardising, mental health in the workplace.

The University of Western Australia and Roy Morgan Research are working together on phase two of the emergency services health study, which is expected to conclude in December.

The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC has provided a funding contribution to the study and will support beyondblue’s work.

“The only national statistic we have about the mental health of police and emergency service workers is a devastating one – 110 Australian police and emergency services workers died by suicide between 2010 and 2012,” says beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman.

“Beyondblue’s reputation is based on its use of scientifically sound, evidence-based research from which we build and develop programs to promote a better understanding of depression and anxiety and suicide prevention.”

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC CEO Dr Richard Thornton says the project will provide important information to understand both the number of people affected and the range of issues they face.

“The understanding we gain will be used to design interventions to support them and their families and improve personal, family and agency outcomes,” says Thornton.

In phase one, completed in November last year by Whereto Research, current and former police and emergency service employees, volunteers and family members were interviewed about their experiences of mental health conditions in which participants felt at risk of suicide.

Initial findings suggest:

  • the nature of the stigma associated with mental health conditions differs across police, fire and rescue and ambulance services;
  • although exposure to trauma is seen as an underlying cause for post-traumatic stress disorder, workplace culture and practices also contribute to the prevalence of mental health conditions;
  • working in police and emergency services, particularly for volunteers, can support workers’ mental health.

“In phase three, beyondblue will work alongside police and emergency service organisations to identify strategies to practically address the issues raised by the findings of this research,” says Harman.

These evidence-based strategies will support individuals, improve organisational culture and address systemic concerns that impact on mental health and wellbeing across the sector nationally.

They will be developed in collaboration with a cross-section of the police and emergency services sector including agencies, unions, government departments, individuals and family and community groups around Australia.

This article on emergency services health research was first published by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. Read the original article here.

wound healing

Wound healing clinic to change lives

A dedicated wound healing clinic – the first in Australia – opens on Tuesday, 7 March. It draws together a pool of specialist wound healing talent that includes a vascular surgeon, nurse practitioners, an advanced podiatrist and specialist wound nurses in one spot to treat and assess chronic wounds.

The clinic, Wound Innovations, is in Spring Hill, Brisbane and accessible to all Australians via the Spring Hill teleclinic, which connects patients and health professionals with a specialist from Wound Innovations through videoconferencing facilities. Wound Innovations also offers education for health professionals and will be a site for clinical trials and other research projects. 

Living with a serious wound is incredibly debilitating. “Wounds are painful and can exude a fluid. People with a wound can suffer from a lack of mobility and this leads to less social interaction, and isolation,” explains Dr Ian Griffiths, CEO of the Wound Management Innovation Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), which runs Wound Innovations.

“Often people are afraid to go out because of the smell from their wounds. It can take you down a very dark path.”

Dr Griffiths says there is medical research linking wounds with depression as well as dementia.

The teleclinic takes high resolution photos of each patient’s wounds to monitor progress and the patient provides feedback, while wound healing experts make recommendations for future care. Appointments may attract a Medicare rebate.

Griffiths expects the wound healing clinic and teleclinic to be a life changer for patients and plans to open other wound healing clinics with specialised teams in capital cities around Australia.

He also expects dramatic savings to the Australian healthcare system as fewer people with wounds will end up in hospital. The Wound CRC estimates that wound healing and management costs the Australian healthcare system $2.85 billion a year, but this is considered a conservative figure and one that covers only the tip of the iceberg.

Griffiths hopes big institutions such as aged and residential care homes will join the clinical service and teleclinic. Some have large percentages of residents who need constant, ongoing wound care. “I know of one aged care home with 38% of residents with chronic wounds,” says Griffiths.

Some of the worst wounds to treat stem from chronic diseases such as diabetes. There are more than 4400 amputations in Australia because of diabetic foot wounds and every 30 seconds a lower limb is lost around the world.

Funded by the Federal Government, the Wound CRC has carried out industry led research since 2010. One research project showed that 78% of patients with venous leg ulcers will heal over a 12-week period by using best practice wound care, including compression bandaging.

Patients in many of the CRC’s studies live with the ulcers for 10 to 20 years. In one case, a patient lived with ulcers for 54 years. At the time, Wound CRC was recruiting patients for a project studying wounds that did not clear up after 12 weeks.

The CRC’s extensive wound healing research stretching over seven years is helping the 433,000 Australian patients who are suffering from chronic wounds at any one time. Their research covers diabetic foot ulcers, burns, skin tears, acute surgical wounds and pressure injuries.

For more information visit woundinnovations.com.au or call 1300 968 637.

university technology

6 Disruptive University Technologies

All of these international innovations seek collaboration with businesses for co-development and knowledge transfer. Find out more on the university technology collaboration platform, IN-PART. To find industry-ready technology from Australian universities, visit Source IP.

Interacting with Virtual Reality

Credit: IN-PART
Credit: IN-PART

What is it?

A technology that allows users to interact with and control 3-dimensional virtual images through natural hand gestures.

What are the benefits of this university technology?

This new concept offers an immersive, engaging and responsive experience for users. Using positional trackers a touchless interface can register hand movements to move a 3D visualisation generated through stereoscopy – a technique that creates the illusion of depth in an image. This technology, developed by university researchers from the UK, can be applied in high and low cost applications including mobiles phones, video games, teaching aids, and also visual interfaces for medical purposes. What’s more, depending on the specific technology, the user may not even need to wear a head set!


A Gene Therapy for Major Depression

Credit: Brett Keane, Youtube

What is it?

A method that can change the genetic expression of a protein (p11) responsible for regulating the response of serotonin receptors – the chemical messenger related to mood, appetite and sleep.

Why is this innovative?

Using a virus-mediated gene transfer to alter the protein’s expression, researchers at an Ivy League US university have been able to normalise depression-like behaviour. The advantage of using gene therapy in patients with depression is, that unlike antidepressants or talking therapy – which may not always be effective in the long-term – this innovation provides durable relief from major depressive disorders and treatment-resistant depression.


Solar Power for a Changing Climate

Credit: Karen and Brad Emerson, Flickr
Credit: Karen and Brad Emerson, Flickr

What is it?

An all-weather combined photovoltaic-thermoelectric solar cell, designed to perform under extreme and varying conditions.

What makes this tech so special?

This hybrid solar cell, invented by academics from the Sunshine State, is adaptive and smart. By efficiently transforming excess heat uncaptured by the photovoltaic process, it generates surplus energy and avoids the increased resistance that traditional solar cells face under high temperatures. In snowy situations it can call upon this thermoelectric energy to keep ice-free, and during extreme heat it minimises operation to ensure a prolonged lifetime. All these are vital functions for a solar cell in a climate tending towards extremes.


Harvesting Energy from Vibrating Skyscrapers

Credit: Matthew Wiebe, Unsplash
Credit: Matthew Wiebe, Unsplash

What is it?

A system that can transform earthquake and wind-induced oscillations in high-rise buildings into electricity.

Why is it cool?

With the transition to a sustainable energy economy it’s imperative that every spare vibration is captured. This unique system, developed by researchers at a London university, offers simultaneous vibration suppression and energy harvesting from dynamically excited structures, aka – skyscrapers! The system can be tuned to weather forecasts and early-warning earthquake systems. And to the pleasure of office workers, it’s an on/off system; oscillation dampener by day, renewable energy capture by night.


Wearable Tech to Ward Off Deadly Pests

Credit: Erik F. Brandsborg, Flickr
Credit: Erik F. Brandsborg, Flickr

What is it?

A wearable device that releases micro-doses of scents (such as insect repellent) in response to the sound of a mosquito buzzing.

How might this change lives?

Preventing the transmission of mosquito-borne disease such as the Zika virus, malaria and the West Nile virus is an ongoing global health priority. This technology is being developed by researchers at a prestigious UK university to detect the sound of buzzing mosquitoes within a certain range, and then release repellent within that range to deter the offending pests. The device – which will be able to recognize the sounds of over 2500 breeds of mosquito! – can be easily embedded into an item of jewellery, piece of clothing, or even camping equipment and furniture.


Tunable Manipulation of Advanced Materials

Credit: IN-PART
Credit: IN-PART

What is it?

A micro-scale composite structure, designed so that its surface adhesion can be controlled by the application of a shear force.

Why is it needed?

As our ability to make increasingly delicate and complex materials rapidly grows, so does our need to be able to manipulate and work with these materials in manufacturing processes. In some cases, advanced materials cannot be suitably handled using vacuum or mechanical handling, and glue residues from traditional adhesives are unacceptable. This scalable composite, developed by researchers at an Ivy League university, could be used to manipulate thin layers of delicate materials without damage – simply by applying or removing a force on the composite.


The innovations in this article are hosted on the IN-PART university technology repository, based in the UK. All actively seek engagement and partnerships with businesses. Register to the platform for free to learn more and connect with the researchers.

To view industry-ready technology from Australian universities seeking partnerships, visit Source IP.

This article on disruptive university technology was first shared by IN-PART on 12 July 2016. Read the original article here.

Apps for youth mental health

Apps for youth mental health

Last month, the Young & Well Cooperative Research Centre (Young & Well CRC) launched Goalzie, a smartphone app designed to promote positive social networking for young people aged 12–17. The game-based app gets young people to set challenges for each other and help their friends achieve the set challenges. Consequences for not achieving these goals include things like washing the family car.

“Young people are far more likely to seek help if they feel supported by their peers and are in an environment which makes help-seeking normal,” says CEO of Young & Well CRC, Associate Professor Jane Burns.

Mental health disorders haven risen dramatically for this age group in the last 16 years, with a recent report showing a jump from 2.9% to 5.0% in major depressive disorders among 12–17-year-olds.

Tim Sloane, a teacher at a secondary school in Sydney, says that during his six years as a student year advisor dealing with student welfare issues, he encountered cases of anxiety, depression, bullying and low self-esteem.

At his school there are different strategies in place to support student mental health and wellbeing, including mentoring programs.

Sloane says the use of online youth mental health tools would be an effective way to help young people take control of their own mental wellbeing, particularly with issues they may find difficult to discuss.

School authorities are legally required to report any cases involving child or drug abuse to police and government authorities. While this mandatory reporting is intended to protect students, Sloane says it may create a hurdle to getting help, and online technologies can be beneficial to starting a dialogue.

National surveys conducted by Young & Well CRC with Beyond Blue, and by Mission Australia found that young people turn to technologies for answers or solutions, ahead of general practitioners, psychologists, teachers or chaplains, adds Burns.

“We think about online tools as support systems for early intervention for preventing mental illness,” says Burns.

Youth mental health online

The Young & Well CRC has launched a number of online campaigns and apps, addressing issues, from cyberbullying to healthy habits and managing day-to-day stress.

Apps for youth mental health
Goalzie smartphone app developed by Young & Well CRC

Created by PhD candidate Sally Bradford in collaboration with the Young & Well CRC, myAssessment is an app aimed at helping young people assess their own mental health, to reduce obstacles in getting appropriate treatment. Trials of this app at headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation, showed the app increased the rate of disclosure of sensitive issues to clinicians by up to 10 times.

Together with online youth help service ReachOut, the Young & Well CRC also launched the app NextStep earlier last month, which aims to connect young people with the right mental health support for their situation.

“We see technologies as part of a holistic support system of care, and we think that professions have been far too slow in recognising that this is an incredibly important resource and tool available to them,” says Burns.

Sue Min Liu

winner of the 2015 CSL Florey Medal

Winner of the 2015 CSL Florey Medal

The winner of the 2015 CSL Florey Medal, Professor Perry Bartlett, will be presented with the award by Health Minister the Hon Sussan Ley at 9 pm (Canberra time) tonight in the Great Hall, Parliament House in Canberra.

Bartlett is putting people with dementia on treadmills. He has already reversed dementia and recovered spatial memories in mice through exercise. During the next year he’ll find out if exercise will have the same impact in people with dementia. Then he’ll look at depression.

Underpinning these projects is the idea that the brain is constantly changing. Learning, memory, mood and many other brain functions are, in part, regulated by the production of new neurons. When Bartlett started exploring the brain in 1977 the mature brain was regarded as static and unchangeable. He challenged this dogma and his work has led to a transformation in our understanding of the brain.

In 1982 Bartlett predicted that there were stem cells in the brain. In 1992 he found them in mouse embryos then in adult mice. A decade later he isolated them from the forebrain. His next big project was building up the Queensland Brain Institute from ten people to 500 in a little more than a decade. The Institute has unleashed a new generation of neuroscientists whose discoveries range from using ultrasound to treat Alzheimer’s disease to finding stem cells associated with mood, spatial learning and more.

Now Bartlett is about to start clinical trials to determine if exercise really can reverse dementia in humans and if the ageing brain can repair itself. Dementia affects more than 300,000 Australians and many more cases are expected as our population ages. It’s a devastating condition and the direct cost to the community is more than $5 billion a year. The impact on families is beyond measure.

The CSL Florey Medal has been presented every two years since 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS). The award recognises significant achievements in biomedical science and human health advancement. It carries a cash prize of $50,000 and has been supported by CSL since 2007.

“Thanks to Bartlett we now know the adult brain can repair itself. His work offers the potential to transform treatment and management of dementia and depression,” says CSL’s Chief Scientist, Dr Andrew Cuthbertson. “CSL is proud to support this award which both recognises excellence in research, and creates role models for the next generation.”

“In winning the CSL Florey Medal, Bartlett joins an elite bunch of Australian medical researchers who have followed in the footsteps of Howard Florey,” says AIPS director Camille Thomson. “To quote Sir Robert Menzies, ‘In terms of world wellbeing, Florey was the most important man ever born in Australia’.”

Bartlett is the Foundation Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Queensland and was the founding Director of the Queensland Brain Institute.

This announcement was kindly shared by Science in Public earlier today.