Mental health is a National Health Priority Area and a major health issue receiving NHMRC research support.

NHMRC Special Initiative in Mental Health (SIMH)

The NHMRC Special Initiative in Mental Health supports a multidisciplinary and nationally focussed team to establish a national centre for innovation in mental health care as a collaborative network across Australia. The team will undertake innovative, high quality implementation research to improve health outcomes and outlooks for people living with mental illness. The centre will operate as a virtual network across Australia, coordinated by a single institution acting as an administrative hub. The centre will include flagship programs to focus the network’s activities on each of the identified research themes. The flagships include a broad membership of researchers, health care services, carers and consumers in mental health to facilitate innovative service delivery across Australia.

The key components of the initiative are:

  • focusing (at least initially) on the following outcome areas (core research themes):
    • improving experience of care through more effective and innovative models of care and health system redesign, and
    • reducing early mortality through evidence-based strategies for addressing physical, behavioural, psychological and other determinants.
  • fostering innovative, multidisciplinary approaches to mental health by bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders with lived experience and professional expertise to define the issues, provide evidence for solutions, deliver improved health outcomes and outlooks for people living with mental illness, and
  • engaging and developing the next generation of mental health research leaders.

A National Research Translation Centre to implement Mental Health Care at Scale – ALIVE

On 16 March 2021 University of Melbourne was awarded $10 million for A National Research Translation Centre to implement Mental Health Care at Scale (ALIVE). ALIVE will operate as a virtual national network of leading researchers working with more than 2,000 people living with mental illness to co-design and implement better models of care across the Australian community.

The new national centre will be funded over 5 years through the NHMRC’s Special Initiative in Mental Health, to lead a generational shift in mental health care research embedded in the community.

The centre will operate from a research hub at the University of Melbourne to establish the ALIVE Lived-Experience Collective – supporting lived-experience research capabilities growth and lived-experience led research - and Co-Design Living Labs at 15 universities across all states and territories. 

Guided by lived experience, this evidence-based model will emphasise early identification and prevention over crisis support, and take a holistic approach, addressing physical as well as mental health. Research will identify opportunities for better coordination of services and more accessible and successful care models that can be rolled out to reach more people across primary care and the community.

Priority populations include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people who are living with severe and complex mental illness. 

This national network will grow and develop the next generation of mental health researchers in Australia. More information can be found at the ALIVE National Centre for Mental Health Research Translation website.


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