Young Australians with severe mental illness who engage in hazardous alcohol use are top of mind in a new research study funded by Australian Rotary Health (ARH).

Professor Amanda Baker and her team at the University of Newcastle are receiving an ARH Mental Health Research Grant to test a telephone intervention for hazardous alcohol use among young people living with severe mental ill-health.

“Young Australians with serious mental illness, including those with schizophrenia, bipolar and depression with psychotic features, report drinking alcohol at rates that are hazardous,” Professor Baker said.

“Our project will use a telephone delivered intervention that aims to address harmful alcohol use, other lifestyle factors such as substance use, and mental health symptoms in young people who are receiving treatment from Australian mental health services.”

This project will be a world first study of a telephone delivered intervention for young people with severe mental illness who are also drinking alcohol at harmful levels.

If the intervention is effective, Professor Baker believes it has the potential to greatly improve young Australians’ access to treatment, leading to improvement in mental health, quality of life, reduced alcohol use and health care costs.

“Improving the health of young people living with severe mental illness is a national priority, and by addressing alcohol use as well as mental health, we can improve young people’s treatment outcomes and longevity.”

“Previous work has assumed that people with severe mental illness need intensive intervention with face-to-face treatment. We have found in other studies that phone intervention is simpler, briefer and just as effective and we want to evaluate that among young Australians with severe mental illness who drink at a hazardous level.”

We wish Professor Baker and her team all the best with this research.


Media contact: Jessica Cooper – (02) 8837 1900 or