Northern Rivers community recovery after the flood
Staff involved: Professor Ross Bailie; Dr Veronica Matthews; Associate Professor James Bennett-Levy; Dr Judy Singer; Dr Sabrina Pit, Dr Megan Passey; Dr Jo Longman; Associate Professor Geoff Morgan; Dr Margaret Rolfe; Ms Lee Duncan; Ms Maddie Braddon
Through a population-based survey, this cross-sectional study aims to measure the impact on mental health and wellbeing of residents (16 years and older) in Northern Rivers’ communities six months after the April 2017 flood. It will examine relationships between mental health and wellbeing and the: degree of flood impact; perceptions of the adequacy of the pre-flood mitigation/warning systems and relief service response (government, community and insurance organisations); and level of personal and community resilience.
The survey examines, in a rural context, the degree of mental health distress by different exposure groups (flooded/ disrupted without flooding/unaffected); and in particularly vulnerable groups including the homeless, older people, young adults, Aboriginal people, farmers, and business owners. We are using validated measures to assess anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to better inform existing and future service provision required in response to natural disasters.
The findings will inform current mental health service needs and policy and service response mechanisms for future preparedness planning for natural disaster events. It will specifically inform the design of: a) community-based mental health and wellbeing interventions to mitigate the impact of the recent (and future) flood events; b) more in-depth research to inform strengthening of disaster relief responses; and c) a prospective cohort study to monitor community mental health and wellbeing in the medium (1-2 years) and longer-term (3-5 years).
Northern NSW Local Health District, University of Western Sydney, University of Wollongong, NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, Rekindling the Spirit, Salvation Army, Social Futures, Red Cross, St Vincent de Paul, Winsome Soup Kitchen, Lifeline, NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Department of Premier & Cabinet, Thomas George’s office, North Coast Primary Health Network, Lismore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Lismore City Council, Helping Hands, Southern Cross University, Interrelate, North Coast Community Housing, Richmond Tweed Library Network, Northern Rivers Community Gateway, Real Art Works, Thrive 2484, NSW State Emergency Service, Tweed Shire Council, Murwillumbah & District Business Chamber, Tumbulgum Community Association, Ocean Shores Community Association, Murwillumbah Community Centre, Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre, Jullums Aboriginal Medical Service.
University Centre of Rural Health
University of Sydney
Western Sydney University
University of Wollongong
Northern NSW LHD
NSW Office of Environment & Heritage
Compassion Focused Therapy groups for Aboriginal clients
Staff Involved: Professor James Bennett-Levy; Natalie Roxburgh
The impact of 200 plus years of colonisation, and resulting social determinants, has meant that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders continue to experience high levels of trauma and grief, with consequent high levels of mental health and drug and alcohol problems. Alongside of these issues, high levels of self-criticism and shame are thought to underpin many of these problems. Recent developments in research suggest that the development of self-compassion skills can be a powerful antidote to shame and self-criticism. This project, trialling compassion focused therapy with Aboriginal clients, is a pilot to determine the value of this approach in three different health services. There is also a health workforce component to the project, as it involves training Aboriginal Health Workers in compassion focused therapy strategies.
Rekindling the Spirit; Bunjum Corporation; Namatjira Haven
North Coast Primary Health Network $118000
Aboriginal e-Social and Emotional Wellbeing Project
As part of a national federally funded ‘e-mental health project (eMHPrac)’, the UCRH is working with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers and community members to promote the use of ‘e-mental health/e-social and emotional wellbeing (e-SEWB) programs
‘e-SEWB programs’ include social and emotional wellbeing apps and online mental health programs. We have developed and conducted training programs for Aboriginal health professionals and others working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote and support the use of e-wellbeing programs with their clients.
As part of recent funding, the training will now be extended to other regions of NSW during 2018-19. To date, three papers have been published from this project (Singer et al., 2015; Bennett-Levy et al., 2017; Bird et al., 2017).
Lismore and Tweed Advisory Groups; Queensland University Technology; Menzies School of Health Research; the Royal Flying Doctor Service; the Black Dog Institute (UNSW)
Department of Health and Aging: nation al $12 million funded project (e-MHPrac); to UCRH $1.9 million
Facilitators and Barriers to the Use of Imagery-based Interventions by cognitive-behaviour therapists
Staff involved: Associate Professor James Bennett-Levy
Research over the past 10 years has shown Imagery-based interventions to be one of the effective types of therapeutic intervention with certain types of psychological disorder (e.g. Post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety, abuse problems etc.).
However, it has become clear that therapists often have reservations about using imagery-based interventions in their therapy (e.g. “it might get out of control” – “I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing”). We are conducting qualitative and quantitative studies to determine what the main barriers are to therapists using imagery interventions, and identifying strategies that may help to facilitate their use.
Bolton University (UK)
The impact of self-practice of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques and self-reflection on skill acquisition in CBT therapists
Staff involved: Associate Professor James Bennett-Levy
Self-practice/self-reflection (SP/SR) training for aspiring CBT therapists was developed by James Bennett-Levy (Bennett-Levy et al., 2001), and has been trialled with promising results in New Zealand, UK, Ireland, Germany and Austria.
Until recently, studies have been largely qualitative. Recent collaborative studies have asked: Can positive effects of SP/SR training be demonstrated quantitatively? What factors facilitate participants’ engagement with SP/SR? Can we identify what elements of the reflective process result in the most positive skill development? To date, three papers (2014-15), two book chapters (2009, 2014) and an SP/SR workbook (Guilford Press, due Feb 2015) have resulted from this project.
University of Newcastle (UK), Cumbria NHS Trust (UK), Northumberland NHS Trust (UK), Massey University (NZ), Flinders University.