National forum at USC to tackle mental illness

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National forum at USC to tackle mental illness

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Published on 29 October 2014

A top-level forum at USC on Thursday 30 October will showcase the latest efforts of 16 leading national experts to improve the lives of Australians with mental ill-health, particularly in the local region.

Visiting experts will include Professor Patrick McGorry AO, Professor Max Bennett AO, Professor Ian Hickie AM, Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck and National Mental Health Commissioners Lucy Brogden and Professor Ian Hickie.

USC Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill said he was delighted with such strong support for the forum and he expected the high-calibre speakers to outline exciting developments in mental health research and practice, as well as plan for the future.

Co-organiser John Mendoza, director of Caloundra-based consultancy ConNetica and a USC Adjunct Professor with extensive history advising governments on mental health issues, said the forum would examine how to assist more people with mental illness to participate in the social and economic life of the community.

He said it would focus on four areas: revolutions in neuroscience and bioscience; policy; technological revolutions; and service innovation.

Mr Mendoza said the forum, to include panel discussions with consumers, carers, policy makers, researchers and service providers, was part of USC’s fast-growing commitment to building community engagement and research in the field of mental health.

“USC is collaborating with universities and research centres around the country because it recognises that issues associated with brain and mind health are of paramount concern and relevance to the Sunshine Coast community, especially given our demographics,” Mr Mendoza said.

“We are higher than state and national averages for people aged above 50 and below 15 and that means potentially more brain and mind disorders ranging from the degenerative Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to children’s mood and developmental disorders such as autism and anxiety. We also have many war veterans at risk from trauma-related illness.

“This forum comes at an opportune time, as Australia has significant conversations about mental health and two major federal reviews of policies and resources.”

USC participants will include Professor of Psychology Doug Mahar, Associate Professor of Interactive Digital Media Dr Christian Jones, and 2011 USC Outstanding Alumnus and 2012 Young Queenslander of the Year Chris Raine, an Arts/Business graduate who founded an online program to reduce young people’s binge drinking.

Professor Hill said USC would continue developing regional and national partnerships, such as with Coast-based support service United Synergies Ltd, to boost study, research and clinical placement opportunities for students and staff, especially as the new Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital precinct developed.

The forum is presented by USC with the support of ConNetica, the Queensland Mental Health Commission and the Queensland Government.

— Julie Schomberg

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