Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New mothers are anxious – not depressed

A study has found that anxiety is more common than depression among new mothers.
Researchers surveyed mothers of healthy babies before birth and then followed them up at several points after birth.

They found that more women suffered from anxiety than depression and that this was associated with greater use of health services and lower rates of breastfeeding.

Read more at Penn State College of Medicine

Monday, March 25, 2013

The 14th International Mental Health Conference - Call for Papers Open

The 14th International Mental Health Conference will be held at Outrigger, Surfers Paradise on Monday the 5th and Tuesday the 6th of August 2013.  Optional workshops will be held on Wednesday the 7th of August. The conference will focus on the complex mental health issues of Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Dementia.

The human, social and economic consequences of mental health disorders and illness are great, and there is a growing realisation of the serious limitations of focusing solely on treatment and rehabilitation. Addressing these factors to improve mental health requires that many organisations from diverse sectors within the community recognise how they can and do contribute to the promotion of mental health and well being.

Featuring Australia and New Zealand's finest clinical practitioners, academics, and mental health experts, the conference will motivate and inspire professionals (and future professionals) by sharing information about;

  • On-going research and findings
  • New knowledge developments: implementation of programs and strategies.
  • Latest evidence and guidelines on early diagnosis and successful patient management.
  • New treatments.
  • Research validation of early intervention strategies and treatments.
  • Prevention Strategies: examine and review effectiveness
  • Translational Research - from lab bench to the clinic and individual patient.
  • Discussion on research and best practice

Keynote addresses, submitted papers, workshops and case studies will examine how approaches and techniques can be incorporated into daily practice.

The conference streams will focus on Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Dementia and address; Primary Interventions - Promoting Recovery - Preventing Relapse - Policy Initiatives

Confirmed Speakers
Professor Philip LP Morris  - President Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association
Professor Philip Mitchell - Professor and Head of the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales; Convenor of Brain Sciences UNSW; Chair of the NSW Mental Health Priority Taskforce; Consultant Psychiatrist, Black Dog Institute, Sydney; Guest Professor, Shanghai Jaitong University; and Board Member of the Anika Foundation.
Professor Elizabeth Beattie - Director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre (DCRC) - Carers and Consumers (based within the School of Nursing at QUT).
Professor Michael Berk - Chair in Psychiatry at Deakin University. Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne and the Mental Health Research Institute.
Professor Cynthia Shannon Weickert - , BA Mphil PhD - Macquarie Group Foundation Chair of Schizophrenia Research - Faculty – Department of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales

Peer Review Advisory Panel:
(Chair) Dr Julia Bowman PhD, Senior Lecturer, Occupational Therapy Program, School of Science and Health
Professor Elizabeth Beattie, Director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre (DCRC) - Carers and Consumers (based within the School of Nursing at QUT).
Scott Fanker, Service Manager, Mental Health Services, Liverpool Hospital

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Nationa Mental Health Commission of Australia - MOU

Louise Bradley

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the National Mental Health Commission of Australia have signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding to share knowledge and successful practices in mental health research.

MHCC President and CEO Louise Bradley signed the memorandum today while participating in two days of meetings with leading mental health organizations and Commissions from around the world in Sydney, Australia. Hosted by the National Mental Health Commission of Australia, the meetings focused on sharing best practices and experiences, providing the represented organizations with opportunities for collaboration that benefit not only their own countries, but international audiences as well.

The memorandum outlines how the two Commissions will actively seek opportunities to work together in areas such as mental health and the workplace, international knowledge exchange and stigma, with cross-promotion of work informed by the lived experience of those experiencing mental health issues,their families and support people, and the mental health sector.

“Improving the lives of people living with a mental health issue or illness is an urgent global priority. Learning about best practices and different approaches to mental health services and programs in other parts of the world and sharing information about our experiences in Canada will lead to improvements both at home and abroad,” said Bradley.

"As a national mental health commission that is just starting out, we have appreciated the exchange of ideas and experiences with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and are delighted to formalise this collaboration through an MoU," CEO and Commissioner of Australia's National Mental Health Commission, Ms Robyn Kruk, said. "We hope the Sydney meeting of international and national Commissioners and other leaders will be a seminal and useful event."

The MHCC and National Mental Health Commission of Australia began discussing options for formally sharing information last August.

Bradley also co-hosted an event at the Consulate General of Canada in Sydney, with Consul General Mario Ste-Marie, where she discussed the MHCC’s role as a catalyst for improving the mental health system and its initiatives related to workplace mental health, housing and homelessness, stigma and knowledge exchange.

Reducing access to the means of suicide

Reducing access to the means of suicide

By Samara McPhedran, Griffith University and Kairi Kolves, Griffith University

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk’s recent announcement that barriers are to be erected on the Story Bridge in an effort to reduce suicides is very welcome. Studies consistently show that barriers have a high likelihood of reducing the number of suicides at a particular location, making them a useful and successful tool for tackling iconic suicide “hot spots”.  But the impacts of barriers on suicides at one location are not representative of what we can expect of means restriction (limiting access to methods of suicide) more generally, as a suicide prevention measure.

In fact, research into barriers and suicide can create an artificial and overly optimistic impression of the efficacy of means restriction.

Reducing access to lethal means

Means restriction may seem a simple way of preventing suicides. It includes measures such as erecting safety barriers on bridges, detoxifying domestic gas, and restricting access to firearms, poisons and drugs. It can be enacted through legislation, making it politically appealing.
However, society, culture, and context matter. Means restriction can be very effective, but it can also have quite different impacts across different locations and populations. Sometimes impacts may only be short term, rather than long-lasting. And what works to reduce suicides for one group or in one location may not work for another.

Measures to prevent suicide through means restriction must be evidence-based and designed to reach vulnerable people who are most at risk of suicide. They must also be integrated with a wide range of other suicide-prevention measures.

Importantly, means restriction is most likely to be effective in reducing overall suicide rates when it targets commonly used, highly lethal methods that account for a high percentage of suicide deaths overall.
But if the majority of suicides in a particular group or location involve methods that cannot be easily curtailed, means restriction is not likely to deliver any real changes in suicide numbers. Unfortunately, in Australia, the method that accounts for the highest percentage of suicides is hanging – a highly lethal method that is almost impossible to restrict. This highlights the importance of early identification and intervention, before an at-risk individual reaches a crisis point.

Method substitution

So if means restriction has the potential to reduce suicides using one method, will people just shift to another method?
One on hand, some suggest that if substitution happens, then restricting highly lethal methods may still reduce deaths. When substitution occurs, it may involve less lethal methods, increasing the chances of survival.
On the other hand, if a method with relatively low lethality is restricted, then it is possible that people who may have used that method will instead use a more lethal means, resulting in a lower likelihood of survival.
But the extent to which method substitution occurs, following means restriction, remains a topic of considerable debate. Different studies on means restriction have produced inconsistent findings. Some show that suicides using alternative methods rise substantially after means restriction, while others find little or no evidence that any substitution took place.
Also, the likelihood of substitution seems to vary across different groups and contexts. For instance, women seem more responsive to means restriction, while men appear more likely to substitute other methods.

Suicide prevention

So does means restriction save individual lives?
This question is perhaps the hardest to answer. Although it is possible to assess changes in suicide rates by particular methods for populations (such as the Australian population overall, or men, or young people), it is far more difficult to show this at the individual level.
To do this, we would need to know the numbers of people who were restricted from accessing one method of suicide who did, and did not, die by some other method of suicide.
Population-level data does not tell us this. All it tells us is whether deaths by particular methods change overall. This is useful information for policy evaluations, but it means we must be cautious not to conclude that specific lives that would otherwise have been lost, have necessarily been saved.
Population-level data also has its limits. Usually, other interventions occur alongside means restriction. Improved treatment for mental illnesses and reductions in risk factors for suicide, for example, also influence declines in suicide rates. Using a range of evidence-based interventions is good practice, but also makes it hard to distinguish the effects, or for that matter the cost-effectiveness, of each specific intervention.
Ultimately, if we are to strive for the best possible suicide prevention strategies, we need to recognise that the apparently simple measure of means restriction is far more complex than it may first seem. And perhaps most importantly, we must also keep trying to better understand what happens in the lives of those individuals that means restriction does not save.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline’s 24-hour helpline on 13 11 14, SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263 or the Beyondblue Info Line on 1300 22 4636.

Samara McPhedran receives funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Queensland Health and the Australian Research Council.  Kairi Kolves receives funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, Queensland Health and the Australian Research Council. She is on the advisory committee of the Lifeline Foundation and is a member of the headspace Outreach Teams to Schools expert advisory group.

The Conversation
This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dr Philip Morris stands for election as President Elect of the RANZCP

Dr Philip Morris, the founder of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association is standing for election as President Elect of the RANZCP.

Dr Morris is Professor at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, and Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Centre for Forensic Excellence, Faculty of Law, Bond University.  Dr Morris has held professor positions in psychiatry at the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland, and at the School of Health Sciences at Bond University.

Read more here.

Friday, March 1, 2013



The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia – in partnership with mental health consumers, carers and care coordinators, mental health policy and practice experts and health professionals – has released a mental health framework which highlights and promotes the expertise of pharmacists and the roles they undertake as partners in mental health care.

National President of the PSA, Grant Kardachi, said the framework was intended to be used to articulate current and explore future pharmacist roles as partners to enhance mental health care service delivery to Australian consumers and carers.

“This framework will be used to engage with a variety of audiences including consumers, carers, mental health care organisations, health care practitioners and governments to promote the role of the pharmacist as a partner in the delivery of mental health care,” he said.

“While pharmacists recognise that medicines are not necessarily the primary or sole treatment option for mental illnesses, the 31.1 million mental health-related prescriptions in Australia in 2010-11, comprising 11% of all medicines subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, reflect that they are a significant modality of treatment.

“Of these, 86% of medicines were prescribed by general practitioners rather than psychiatrists. These figures emphasise the need and opportunity for pharmacist involvement in mental health care.”
Mr Kardachi said the framework focused on how pharmacists’ skills and experience could be used to improve quality use of medicines for consumers with a mental illness.

“Pharmacists have a strong primary health care role and, due to their accessibility, are often the first health professional contacted by a consumer with a health concern,” he said.

“Pharmacists are frequently consulted for advice on psychotropic medications and their accessibility and frequent contact with mental health consumers and carers means they are ideally placed to play a greater role in the management of mental illness or conditions.”

Mr Kardachi said the development of the framework was a collegiate effort and acknowledged the generous and collaborative contributions by individual experts and nominees of the following organisations: Australian College of Mental Health Nurses; Australian General Practice Network; Australian Psychological Society; Mental Health Council of Australia; Pharmaceutical Society of Australia; Pharmacy Board of Australia; The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists; The Pharmacy Guild of Australia; and The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia.

Download the Mental Health Framework www.psa.org.au/archives/21010