Mental health and substance use disorders account for more years of life lost due to disability than any other disorders. These disorders often occur together (comorbidity), affecting more than 300,000 Australians every year. Despite the significance of these conditions, the evidence surrounding the effective prevention and treatment of co-occurring disorders is weak.
Funded in 2012 by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, our Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Mental Health and Substance Use aims to build much needed research capacity in this area. This CRE represents a world first, bringing together the largest concentration of nationally and internationally recognised comorbidity researchers. Specifically, the CRE brings together leading research academics from four Australian universities (University of New South Wales; University of Newcastle; University of Sydney; and Macquarie University) and three international universities (University of Birmingham, UK; Northwestern University Medical School, USA; and the Medical University of South Carolina, USA).
The CRE will enable the field to move from treatment silos to everyday practice and single focus to multiple behaviour change.
Research into treatment will provide new treatments and resources for the estimated 300,000 Australians currently living with comorbid mental health and substance use disorders, as well as improve the quality of life and mortality of those with the disorders themselves.
Research into and dissemination of prevention strategies will work to reduce the numbers of young Australians transitioning to adulthood with disabilities or vocational, educational and social harms as a consequence of mental health and substance use disorders.
The CRE aims to generate new research to increase the knowledge base regarding the effective prevention and treatment of comorbid mental health and substance use disorders. These aims will be achieved via three research streams focusing on prevention, treatment and epidemiology.
Furthermore, in addition to making the finding of our research available in the scientific literature, an integral component of this CRE is the translation of these research findings into educational curricula, training programsand clinical resources, as well as resources for the general public.