I am a psychiatric epidemiologist specialising in lifestyle approaches for the prevention of mental illness. My PhD, awarded in 2016, evaluated the mental health outcomes of a secondary school-based nutrition and physical activity intervention for adolescents. My research experience includes working within schools to investigate how to best foster positive mental health, and building epidemiological evidence through the analysis of population-level databases.
I hope to contribute to the development of novel and innovative approaches for the prevention of mental illness, to help alleviate the burden attributable to such illnesses throughout Australia.
The common mental disorders (CMDs), depression and anxiety, impose a significant health burden among individuals and communities throughout Australia and globally. Opportunities to target risk factors that are modifiable, such as lifestyle behaviours, are particularly appealing as they are universal to all individuals and allow large population reach. The evidence is now consistent and compelling for the modification of diet and physical activity behaviours for the prevention of CMDs.
My project will evaluate the mental health outcomes of existing nutritional and physical activity strategies in the community to identify implications for depression and anxiety. I will also utilise data from large, population-level studies to investigate in more detail the potential role of diet and physical activity in CMDs, seeking to quantify the relative importance of these factors.
This project will be based at Food and Mood Centre, Deakin University and will also involve extensive collaboration with the Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE), Deakin University. Previous results and new insights from the GLOBE initiatives suggest that taking a ‘whole of community’ approach to improving diet and physical activity is a promising avenue for preventing mental disorders. This project offers a unique and highly valuable opportunity to test this at scale.