Thursday, January 31, 2013

Successful Mental Health Approach To Teenage Alcohol Prevention

Dr Patricia Conrod

Targeted psychological interventions aimed at teenagers at risk of emotional and behavioural problems significantly reduce their drinking behaviour, and that of their schoolmates, according to the results from a large randomised controlled trial published in JAMA Psychiatry. The authors argue that the intervention could be administered in schools throughout the UK to help prevent teenage alcohol abuse.

The 'Adventure Trial' is led by Dr Patricia Conrod, King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, in collaboration with the University of Montreal and Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center (Canada) and was commissioned by Action on Addiction.

Read the full article on Medical News Today

The Association to support Psychs on Bikes in 2013

The Big Ride in April 2013 will be from Bathurst to Sydney… via Queensland.

Psychs on Bikes is a Project involving mental health professionals riding motorbikes to raise money for charities.

Our motto is “Adventure before Dementia!”  The rides are open to any psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health nurse or bona fide mental health professional.

The object of the exercise will be to ride up one inland highway, visiting a number of towns as we go, then spend a full day in Maryborough on Queensland’s Fraser Coast hanging out at the Ulysses Club AGM, then head south down a different inland route stopping at a few more towns before ending up back in Sydney 9 days after leaving Bathurst... more details

Clear you diary NOW!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Community led approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing

MindMatters, ‘Anangu Way’; A Community led approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing

Central Australia
The purpose of this paper is to share the MindMatters approach to working in Anangu communities in the Far North-West corner of South Australia and the Southern region of the Northern Territory.  (The term Anangu is a collective term that Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people use to refer to themselves.)

Remote Indigenous communities experience significant levels of incidences and ongoing issues with young people and their mental health and wellbeing. Mainstream programs in this field remain bound to the coastal fringe of the nation, or do not reinvent in order to build community capacity for understanding, engagement and agency for change in their families, schools and communities.

An innovative approach to these concerns has been taken in the implementation of MindMatters in Anangu schools in South Australia and the Northern Territory to enable community led mental health and wellbeing.

This article describes the work that has occurred. It exemplifies the value of a respectful, strength-based paradigm that focuses on a community development approach. The outcomes of this work include local capacity building; ongoing development of quality resources in Pitjantjatjara language, and the emergence of agency for change. A flexible process and framework facilitated the implementation of this work.

Reproducible principles include the value of respecting and privileging contextual knowledge and capacity.  In doing so, Anangu educators have taken ownership of the program and a passion for bringing others along the MindMatters journey…Anangu way.

Paper presented by Sam Osborne, Senior Research Fellow, University of South Australia
Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation at the 4th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium, Adelaide (SA), 19-21 November 2012

Friday, January 18, 2013

Childhood Trauma and Neural Development. Indicators for Interventions with Special Reference to Rural and Remote Environments.

Dr. Pieter J Rossouw
Dr. Pieter J Rossouw
This paper focuses on the effects of childhood trauma on healthy neural development. An alarming study of 10,000 adolescents indicates that one in every four to five youths meets the criteria of a severe impairment across the lifetime. Studies also indicate the positive effects of early interventions to enhance neural activation and facilitating resilience. 

Historical events and current logistical obstacles in rural and remote environments indicate significant challenges to address childhood trauma resulting in enhanced risk of long term violation of basic needs. The net result is detrimental neural development, compromised resilience and trans-generational deficit. Challenges are identified and intervention strategies suggested.    

Paper presented by Dr. Pieter J Rossouw, School of Psychology, School of Social Work and Human Services,The University of Queensland  at the 4th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium, Adelaide (SA), 19-21 November 2012

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Has the suicide rate risen with the 2011 Queensland floods?

Professor Diego De Leo - Griffith University
Prof Diego De Leo

This study compared the prevalence and characteristics of suicides following the January 2011 Queensland floods to the 11 years prior (for the period January-June) for two severely affected locations: Ipswich and Toowoomba. 

Findings showed no significant increase in suicide rates during the 6 months after the floods. This may be explained by the elevated level of social support and care available in this period, which protected residents against risk factors for suicide. Nonetheless, the floods may have a delayed effect on suicide mortality.

This highlights the importance of continued monitoring of suicidal behaviors and providing support to the people affected.

Main findings:  In January 2011, several regions of Queensland were affected by extreme flash flooding, in what has been described as the worst natural disaster to hit the state in the last 30 years(1).

Previous research has suggested that individuals who fall victim to natural disasters may experience suicidal ideation or attempts shortly after the event(2). However, a recent review of 42 papers examining the relationship between natural disasters and fatal and non-fatal suicidal behaviours worldwide has indicated that non-fatal suicidal behaviour may decrease in the period following the event and increase sometime after the event, due to diminishing availability of support from the community and mental health care professionals over time(3).

The review further indicates that the increase in suicidal behaviour over time may be impacted by other life factors such as mental disorders, property damage and economic problems(3). Findings regarding fatal suicidal behaviour were much less consistent, with studies showing mixed results(3).
The current study evaluated the impact of the 2011 floods on suicide rates in Ipswich and Toowoomba, after a coronial inquest suggested that rates may increase in the areas most affected by the floods. The study compared rates in the six months after the floods, to the same six month period (January-June) in 2000-2010.

Suicide cases in these areas were identified using the Queensland Suicide Register (QSR), and crude suicide rates were calculated using estimated population data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics(4). Results of the current paper suggested that fatal suicidal behaviour did not increase in the six months following the event.  For Toowoomba in particular, suicide rates decreased following the floods.  While no suicide cases in Ipswich in 2011 mentioned the floods as a significant stressor preceding the death, one suicide case from Toowoomba did mention the floods as a possible contributing factor, however, this case also involved other negative life factors such as financial problems, depression and unemployment.

Implications:  Much of the current research analysing the impact of natural disasters on suicidal behaviours has been conducted overseas, with earthquakes being the most frequently studied disaster(3). While events such as earthquakes are rare in Australia, Australia is regularly affected by a number of other natural disasters, including floods, and the current study has built on existing literature by providing an analysis which is more relevant to the Australian context. Previous studies involving fatal suicidal behaviour have retrieved mixed results.

The current study lends support to the idea that fatal suicidal behaviours may decrease following a natural disaster, in a similar fashion to the decline consistently witnessed in non-fatal suicidal behaviours. However, more research is required in this area before a clear pattern over a longer period can be identified.

Research has suggested that suicidal behaviour may increase in the years following a natural disaster. As noted by the authors of the current study, to prevent a similar increase following the 2011 Queensland floods, it is imperative that continued mental health care and community support is made available to those individuals affected by the floods, particularly those who may be experiencing other life stressors such as mental illness or financial difficulties.

1. Queensland Government (2011). Operation Queenslander: The state community, economic and environmental recovery and reconstruction plan. Retrieved 09 January 2012 from
2. Chuang HL , Huang WC (2007). A re-examination of the suicide rates in Taiwan. Social Indicators Research 83, 465-485.
3. Kõlves K, Kõlves KE, De Leo D (2012). Natural disasters and suicidal behaviours: A systematic literature review. Journal of Affective Disorders.  Published online: 20 August 2012. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.07.037, 2012
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2000-2010). Population by age and sex, regions of Australia. Canberra, Australia: Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The paper was prepared by De Leo D, Too LS, Kõlves K, Milner A, Ide N (Australia).
Submitted by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University

14th International Mental Health Conference