The Centre for Mental Health Research at ANU has planned a new project to help GP's recognise and treat mental illness as a result of drug and alcohol use.
The project, to be led by Professor Helen Christensen, is one of five selected in the latest round of funding from the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI).
This round of funding by APHCRI builds on work by research teams around the country it has previously funded.
Professor Christensen's project will aim to find solutions for State and Federal Governments who have, through recent Council of Australian Governments meetings, sought to address the increasing problem of mental health issues arising from drug and alcohol use.
"Both the National Mental Health Plan and the National Drug Strategic Framework emphasise the increasing importance of primary care providers in the detection and management of co-occurring problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse and mental health illnesses," Professor Christensen said.
"It's not a matter of GPs currently failing these patients, but that there isn't enough evidence to offer best practice guidelines to deal with them.
That means mental health patients in Australia are missing out."
Identifying the procedures and incentives required for more effective management of mental illness when associated with drug and alcohol disorders in primary health care settings will be a focus of the project.
The other projects funded in this round include:
. An investigation of rural and remote health successes and how to sustain them (Associate Professor John Wakerman, Flinders University)
. Developing smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical exercise (SNAP) management programs as part of the new over-45 health check (Professor Mark Harris, University of New South Wales)
. Process tools for evidence-policy transfer in Indigenous-mainstream primary health care partnerships (Dr Jeffrey Fuller, University of Sydney)
. Organising care for depression and related disorders in the Australian primary health care setting - Tasmanian and cross-cultural component (Professor Jane Gunn, University of Melbourne)
The Director of the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, Professor Nicholas Glasgow, announced the $1.25 million worth of funding at the General Practice and Primary Health Care Research Conference in Perth
"Many of our research teams have begun some fascinating work that will result in answers to important policy questions plaguing governments. We decided it was important to extend some of the work that was already being
done and take it to the next level," he said.
"We congratulate this contingent of successful teams and look forward to seeing the results of their endeavours late next year," he added.