What do you enjoy most about your role?
My role in mentoring young researchers and other staff is inspiring. We have a wonderful group of people at Black Dog who continue to spearhead discovery, innovation and engagement in mental health.
Mental health and suicide prevention are huge challenges that are not easily solved. I really enjoy being able to tackle this challenge head on and see the impact that our research and other activity has on improving lives – whether that be through suicide prevention, youth, digital or any of our other priority areas. Science is critical in determining the best course of action to take; taking that knowledge to scale is where we can make a real difference.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
The scale of the problem is a challenge, particularly now that we are seeing elevated levels of distress due to the coronavirus. Further to this is the fact that funding for mental health research and services is not commensurate with the personal, societal and economic impact that these illnesses have. Building and maintaining engagement in the seriousness of the issue is an ongoing priority for me and for the Institute.
How has Black Dog Institute pivoted its support for people facing mental health challenges during the coronavirus crisis?
The coronavirus has compounded the real problems that already beset the mental health sector for many years and it has also made it clear that inequity is growing. For Black Dog Institute, the rapid digital transformation that followed the first lockdowns fast-tracked our existing strategies in digital and prevention, focussing our attention on the need to develop and deliver evidence-based interventions at scale. The coronavirus has made us consider new ways of working and investigate how we can find new and better solutions for those people that need us the most. This is a priority within our new five-year strategy and in particular we will now have specific goals around partnership with indigenous people and communities.
What does it mean to have the support of Future Generation Global?
Black Dog Institute does not receive government funding in the same way that some other mental health organisations do. Being supported by Future Generation Global’s innovative and forward-thinking investment model means that we are able to pursue and sustain our work in youth suicide prevention over and above the competitive grants that we win. This gives our researchers stability in an industry that is notoriously unstable and helps us attract the best and brightest to the Institute. The stability also allows us to take on PhD students which further extends our work and impact. This leveraging of funds to exponentially increase our output and impact is transformational for our work and is something that I am keen to speak more about in the future.