- Regional Universities Network (RUN) to establish Regional Australia Mental Health Research and Training Institute
- Charles Sturt is one of six universities that are part of RUN
- Charles Sturt will provide mentorship and resources through Equally Well, Workplace Wellness, and First Nations engagement
Charles Sturt University is among a consortium of rural universities granted $3.66 million to establish the Regional Australia Mental Health Research and Training Institute.
The institute will create the next generation of mental health researchers to address significant regional, rural and remote mental health challenges.
Led by the University of New England, the institute was funded through a Commonwealth grant under the Regional Research Collaboration fund, awarded to the Regional University’s Network (RUN), of which Charles Sturt is a part.
The title of the project is ‘The Regional Australia Mental Health Research and Training Institute: Building place-based research capacity to improve mental health in regional, rural and remote Australia through the Regional Universities Network (RUN)’.
The project will develop a virtual training platform for mental health researchers, build the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, priority populations, and regional communities and develop a toolkit to assist to decrease the mental health-related morbidity and mortality among regional Australians.
The Charles Sturt lead for this project is Professor in Management in the School of Business Professor Russell Roberts, who is also the Leader of the Workforce Wellbeing Research Unit and National Director of Equally Well, an organisation committed to improving the physical health of people living with a mental illness.
Professor Roberts said the funding and projects will link emerging researchers with existing high-performing research teams across RUN partnerships to develop the research capacity in rural and regional Australia, and thereby enhance the mental health and wellbeing of rural communities.
Charles Sturt researchers will lead research in three key areas – workforce wellbeing, Equally Well, and First Nations research. Charles Sturt University will lead research into the wellbeing of the rural workforce and build on the recent research success of the Workforce Wellness Research Unit.
“Our team will assist in research into interventions which will enhance the physical health of people living with mental illness and connect emerging researchers to Equally Well’s national and international network of research collaborators,” he said.
“This research will also build on the contribution and record in training First Nations mental health workforce of the University’s Djirruwang program.”
A focus of the institute will be developing the research capacity of First Nations researchers and PhD students in rural Australia and instilling cultural awareness in supervisors.
“This will increase the quality and the cultural confidence of research into the social and emotional wellbeing of First Nations communities and support better programs into promoting wellbeing and preventing psychological distress,” Professor Roberts said.
The aim of the overall project is to develop a collaborative training network for mental health researchers, which will help build the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, priority populations, and regional communities, and develop a toolkit to assist to decrease the mental health-related morbidity and mortality among regional Australians.
Other partners include the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Well-being, Everymind, Lifeline Direct, the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, and the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research.
The $3.6 million funding will be split between the six universities over three years, with Charles Sturt set to receive about $600,000.
The funding was part of a $20 million commitment to increasing the research capacity at regional universities.