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Fresh focus on Mental health in the regions

[supplied by Priscilla Roberts]


Dr Vicki Pascoe. Image: supplied

A new role with a national mental health institute has opened doors up for a CQUniversity researcher to make an impact in regional Queensland.

With 20 years’ experience in social justice research, Dr Vicki Pascoe – an Arrernte woman – has a wealth of knowledge and passion for people living in regional Australia.

She believes a collaborative approach by researchers at the coalface could help to address the mental health and wellbeing needs of people living in rural and regional areas.

That’s why Dr Pascoe has recently been appointed to the Manna Institute which unites leading mental health researchers from seven regional universities to engage in research, workforces, and practical, place-based programs. The Institute has $3.66 million in Commonwealth funding to drive the initiatives.

Dr Pascoe said regional and rural Australia face immense challenges in accessing mental health support and services and it needs a deliberate approach to engage regional researchers to help find solutions to the complex issues they face.

“My work with the Manna Institute will enable me to collaborate with like-minded researchers in an effort to find solutions to some of the regions’ biggest needs in mental health,” Dr Pascoe said.

“The regions have their own specific issues that need solutions, and regional researchers are best placed to understand the problems and find solutions.”

Rockhapton-based Dr Pascoe joins CQUniversity colleague Dr Cassy Dittman as researchers under chief investigator Professor Chris Doren at the Institute.

As a social justice researcher, Dr Pascoe has an interest in First Nation’s health and wellbeing, experiences of first-time university students, and the mental health of regional medical staff.

Operating as an innovative virtual research and training initiative, the first of its kind in Australia, the Manna Institute includes Regional Universities Network (RUN) members CQUniversity, Charles Sturt University, Federation University, Southern Cross University, the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Sunshine Coast and lead institution the University of New England.

Professor Chris Doran said the Manna Institute had the potential legacy of transforming regional people’s lives.

“Australia is experiencing a mental health crisis and regional Australians are most at risk,” he said.

“The obvious strength of this institute is its people and their commitment to improving mental health outcomes for Australians living in rural and remote regions.

“The institute’s research agenda will strengthen the knowledge base around mental health, and ultimately lead to more effective solutions,” he said.


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