‘The SuperLearner project: Fast-tracking our understanding of risk and protective factors for substance use and mental health problems’
University of Sydney, NSW
“Risky substance use, depression, suicide and anxiety frequently co-occur, share common risk factors, and interact.”
Associate Professor Tim Slade is Director of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the Matilda Centre for Research in Substance Use and Mental Health, University of Sydney and Program Lead, Biostatistics for the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for Prevention of Mental Illness and Substance Misuse (PREMISE).
His research program in psychiatric epidemiology aims to improve our understanding of the prevalence, correlates and diagnostic validity of mental and substance use disorders with the aim of informing the next generation of prevention and early intervention responses.
Substance use and mental disorders are the leading causes of disease burden among young people. These disorders often start on the cusp of young adulthood and once established have an insidious course that disrupts functioning across a range of educational, occupational, social and relationship domains. The epidemiological landscape of mental and substance use disorders has seen major shifts over the last 10-15 years. Recent cohort changes around the globe have provided evidence for increases in mental health problems in adolescence alongside decreases in rates of substance use calling for a better understanding of these complex developmental relationships to inform the next generation of prevention efforts.
Our research group has amassed a unique collection of large-scale data sets (N=18,648) containing longitudinal data spanning over 7 years across adolescence on a wide range of potential predictors of substance use and mental health problems. Employing modern causal statistical methods, this project will identify risk and protective factors that increase or decreases the chances of developing substance use and mental health problems over the critical adolescent period.
Co-Investigators: A/Professor Nicola Newton, A/Professor Cath Chapman, Dr Matthew Sunderland and Professor Maree Teesson.