A national network of leading mental health researchers will work with more than 2000 people living with mental illness to deliver better models of mental health care across Australia, thanks to the Morrison Government.
Funded by $10 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Special Initiative in Mental Health, the new national centre, called ALIVE, will help to lead a generational shift in mental health care research.
Operating from research hub, to be based at the University of Melbourne, ALIVE will establish an Academy of Lived Experience and Co-Design Living Labs at 14 universities across all states and territories.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the centre will use research to rethink models of mental health care and the way they are delivered, to find a national solution to a national problem.
“The Australian Government’s investment in mental health services and suicide prevention in 2020-21 is at a record high of $5.9 billion,” Minister Hunt said. “This not only delivers better treatment of mental health conditions, but provides Australian researchers the tools to improve treatment.”
“ALIVE will drive a national research agenda to deliver innovative, evidence-based mental health care. The centre complements the National Mental Health Commission’s reform program so that all people in Australia can lead fulfilling lives, participating socially and economically in thriving communities.”
“This national network will grow and develop the next generation of mental health researchers in Australia.”
Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, said the centre would be guided by lived experience.
“The knowledge and experience of more than 2000 Australians living with mental illness will help shape the research, and will be critical in designing a more effective, coordinated and compassionate system,” Assistant Minister Coleman said.
“Through this approach we are putting the needs of people at the centre of the design and delivery of mental health services in Australia.”
ALIVE’s evidence-based model will emphasise early identification and prevention over crisis support, and take a holistic approach, addressing physical as well as mental health.
Priority populations include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people who are living with severe and complex mental illness.
The centre will be led by Associate Professor Victoria Palmer who leads the University of Melbourne’s Integrated Mental Health Research Program and is internationally recognised for her expertise in primary care mental health research.
“Our approach begins with the lived experience of people with mental health conditions as central to the co-design of the transformation that is required across the health care system,” Associate Professor Victoria Palmer said.
“By working hand-in-hand with those living with mental illness and carers we aim to develop a better system of care which saves lives and improves outcomes.”
NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO said the new national centre was the result of a considered assessment of existing mental health research and would complement other Australian Government initiatives.
“This centre is a strategic investment in national collaboration to develop long-term partnerships between research, health care and service delivery. It is designed to find approaches to prevention and treatment that can address the issue at a national scale,” Professor Kelso said.
The centre will report to an independent governance committee, chaired by Professor Allan Fels AO, former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the National Mental Health Commission.