Strategic Investment in Mental Health Research Priorities

In May 2011, the Australian Government announced the Budget Measure: Strategic investment in mental health research priorities through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) - $26.2 million over the next five years.

The Government’s announcement stated:

Coordinating research and translating it into actual services are vital to improving the quality of mental health services nationally and to improve outcomes for the one in five Australians with mental illness. Currently there is no strategic research capacity in the mental health sector to address critical policy and investment issues.

The NHMRC is committed to the development of evidence for better treatment and health services in mental health. It has named mental health as a strategic priority for the coming years and has been working actively to embed mental health research into its activities and to consult with the sector.

Consistent with its strategic plan and responsive to the Government’s priorities, NHMRC will dedicate $26.2 million over a five year period (a minimum of $5 million per year) from the Medical Research Endowment account for such activities. This will not preclude applications for mental health related research projects to the NHMRC’s normal competitive process.

The NHMRC implemented this Budget Measure by allocating $26.2 million as follows:

1. Targeted Call for Research (TCR) in Mental Health

Following consultation, NHMRC’s Research Committee agreed that the focus of this TCR would be on Prevention of, and early intervention in, mental illness in children and young people. The aim of this TCR was to stimulate research with clearly defined policy and service delivery outcomes for individuals up to the age of 25 years and their families and carers. NHMRC funded thirteen successful applications, totaling $13.7 million.

2. Centre of Research Excellence

The NHMRC funded two CREs in mental health research, designed to support teams of researchers to pursue collaborative research and develop capacity in the field of mental health research. These CREs, funded in 2012, totaled $5 million and focus on suicide prevention and intervention strategies into substance abuse.

3. NHMRC John Cade Fellowship in Mental Health Research

An allocation of $7.5 million from the budget initiative was provided to fund two NHMRC John Cade Fellowships in Mental Health Research. These Fellowships were designed to build national leadership and to expand capacity in Australian mental health research by supporting research leaders with outstanding records of achievement in the mental health field and their research teams.NHMRC funded two successful applications.