Suicide prevention, mental health programs boosted by $3.9m fund - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Suicide prevention, mental health programs boosted by $3.9m fund

11 Apr 2022

The University of the Sunshine Coast’s mental health and suicide prevention programs will continue to support the Sunshine Coast community thanks to a commitment of federal funding to USC’s Thompson Institute.

Institute Director Professor Jim Lagopoulos welcomed the $3.9 million over three years, which was allocated by the Australian Government’s Department of Health during the 2022-23 federal budget.

“A continuation of federal support of our community programs and ground-breaking research is an indication of the important inroads we are making,” Professor Lagopoulos said.

The Thompson Institute uses the latest neuroscience to research and deliver community programs and treatment options for Australia’s most pressing mental health issues, including suicide prevention, youth mental health, PTSD and eating disorders.

“We are committed to the wellbeing of not only our immediate community, but to rapidly translating research into safe and effective treatments for all Australians,” Professor Lagopoulos said.

“Our institute has a major advantage, being home to one of Australia’s most commercially and clinical knowledgeable research teams in neuroscience.”

This is the third investment by the Department of Health into a suite of targeted and ground-breaking Thompson Institute projects, following $5 million in 2017 and a further $2.5 million in 2019.

The funding will be allocated to projects that will increase knowledge of neurodevelopmental changes that precede a mental illness, identifying novel treatments of chronic mental health conditions and to deliver community-based prevention activities related to training, education and capacity building.

It will also support the institute’s Alliance for Suicide Prevention – Sunshine Coast, which is working to combat the rate of suicide rate across the Sunshine Coast region.

USC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Ross Young said he was encouraged by a focus on regional universities in this year’s federal budget, providing recognition of the role they play in prosperous, healthy communities, while also helping to solve problems on a national scale.

“In one year, the national economy loses $13.1 billion from the consequences of mental illness, which is on top of the considerable impacts on the wellbeing and lives of those impacted, their families and friends, which is why research into mental health is so vital to us all,” Professor Young said.

USC’s Thompson Institute opened in 2016 thanks to major donations to USC by Roy and Nola Thompson, who have contributed a further $6 million for the new PTSD Centre.

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