Australia’s A$125 million mental health research fund releases new roadmap
The A$125 million mental health “mission” of Australia’s Medical Research Future Fund has a new set of priorities.
Under a roadmap released by the fund on 27 April, the Million Minds mission will focus on creating and implementing “evidence-based interventions and treatments” that reduce mental illness, speed up diagnosis, prevent suicide and provide better care and access to care.
It gives a set of funding principles that emphasise: co-designing with people experiencing mental health issues; reducing duplication of research; and keeping up with “emerging trends and challenges”.
The three new priority areas are: better understanding of the contributing factors of mental illness; ensuring population wellbeing in the face of critical and emerging challenges; and timely access to evidence-based treatment and prevention.
The mission is halfway through its 10-year term.
The roadmap was updated by an expert advisory panel headed by Maree Teesson from the University of Sydney. The panel conducted public meetings and took submissions in 2022, and sent the plan to an international review panel.
A consultation report said that “many” stakeholders among the 18 written submissions supported the mission’s planned priority areas. Submissions had suggested that some smaller-scale research could be rolled into larger-scale, long-term projects.
They also called for a “greater focus on health services and systems research”, but the panel said that was already covered by some of the priorities. A call for research to have “genuine co-design with people with lived or living experience, and with the community more broadly”, was accepted.
The emphasis on sustainability was increased following the consultation, and greater consistency of datasets across jurisdictions was also added as a principle.
The international review panel raised concerns about “funding too many smaller correlation studies at the expense of funding larger implementation research”, and it recommended that large projects have a focused hypothesis “to ensure they remain relevant and outcomes-based”.
It also suggested a focus on supporting early to mid-career researchers in mental health.