HEAD OF THE MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM: Professor Michael Breakspear
The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that an estimated 3.2 million Australians (20 % of the population aged between 16 and 85) had a mental disorder in the 12 months prior to the survey. The Burden of Disease and Injury in Australia (2003) study indicated that mental disorders constitute the leading cause of disability burden in Australia.
Mental illnesses encompass disorders of mood, thinking, perception, communication and function. They can occur throughout the lifespan and be disabling and distressing. The focus of the Mental Health and Complex Disorders Research Program at QIMR Berghofer is to combine the existing strengths of our work in genetics and population health with new techniques in neurosciences. Our team has strengths in the clinical aspects of mood disorders, completed by the capacity to use genetic, imaging and computational approaches to understand these debilitating disorders. The promise of this approach is personalised therapies for the mood disorders, based on improved knowledge of pathophysiology (in particular, the brain circuits involved in the mood disorders) and empirically validated clinical and/or biological phenotypes.