Our projects

Our projects

The Centre for Emotional Health undertakes first class research into the understanding, treatment and prevention of anxiety, depression and other emotional disorders which are some of the most common and greatest impact disorders of our society.

In addition to the studies outlined below, we also offer a number of treatment programs through our Centre for Emotional Health Clinic. Read more about our programs for children and adolescents and adults.

Currently recruiting

Co-SPACE Australia

Supporting Parents, Adolescents and Children during Epidemics in Australia

The Co-SPACE Australia study will tell us how Australian families are coping during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, and what parents can do to help support their children’s mental health. We hope this will help us to understand the needs of families at this time. We will share the findings to help others to provide the right support.

We are looking for Australian parents of children aged 4-17 years to complete questions about you and your child. The questions relate to your family life, relationships, health and wellbeing, parenting, psychological symptoms and how you are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic (about 15-20 minutes). If your child is aged between 11-17 years they will also be invited to complete a short survey. You and your child can then choose to participate in shorter follow-up surveys (about 15 minutes each) every month while COVID-19 restrictions are in place and then 6 months after.

For more information please visit the Co-SPACE Australia study webpage.

If you would like to contact us directly, please email to gemma.sicouri@mq.edu.au, jennie.hudson@mq.edu.au or liz.pellicano@mq.edu.au.

Stepped Care Effectiveness Trial for Ageing Adults

In this NHMRC-Beyond Blue co-funded study we are evaluating whether evidence-based treatment models for older adults aged 65 years and above with anxiety and/or depression can be delivered through existing health services using a Stepped Care model.  This Stepped Care model comprises a low intensity treatment in which older adults receive treatment at home via a workbook or an internet program supported by brief telephone calls from a clinician as a first step, and a face-to-face program as the higher intensity treatment option (step 2).  We are currently comparing this Stepped Care model to standard treatment for older adults with symptoms of anxiety and depression across five existing mental health services representing community (urban/regional) and private mental health care organisations.

Please take a moment to view this video for more information, or visit the trial webpage www.tiny.cc/STOP-Study

If you would like to contact us directly, please email to STOP@mq.edu.au or call (02) 9850 8715.

Improving Mental Health and Social Participation Outcomes in Older Adults with Depression and Anxiety

In this NHMRC-Beyond Blue co-funded study we are examining whether there is a difference in the benefits of two psychological treatment programs aimed at reducing depression and anxiety in older adults.  Adults aged 65 years and above who have anxiety and/or depression can participate in this free research trial.  For more information contact:  SPAA@mq.edu.au or call (02) 9850 8715.

Cool Kids Taking Control - online, self help program for targets of bullying

Researchers: Sally Fitzpatrick, Theresa Kidd and Jennie Hudson

We are currently investigating the efficacy of Cool Kids - Taking Control in reducing peer victimisation.

This self-help program, delivered over the internet, is designed to support children (7-11 years of age) who have been targets of bullying and who also have high levels of anxiety. It is based on the well-known Cool Kids anxiety program developed at the Centre for Emotional Health.

The eight lessons, delivered over ten weeks, teach children (ages 7 to 11 years):

  • about bullying and anxiety,
  • how to be confident in social situations,
  • how to better manage fears,
  • helpful ways to act if they are bullied, and
  • how to cope with bullying.

There is a $100 bond that is paid initially, which covers the assessments and treatment. Once you've complete treatment and the final assessment you will receive the $100 back.

For further information about the program please contact us at: takingcontrol@mq.edu.au

Recruitment end date: July 2019

Inroads - FREE access to an online skills development program for anxiety and drinking

Researchers: UNSW and Macquarie University

The inroads program for young adults aged 17-24 years with concerns about their anxiety and drinking. Over five online modules, the program will help develop new skills to encourage you to think about your use of alcohol and overcome anxiety. You will be encouraged to set goals and stick to your choices. The modules are completed weekly and you will also receive phone/ email support from an experienced psychologist.

To learn more and register: inroads.org.au/

Key research areas and projects underway

Anxiety and depression in children and young people

The RAW project – Children’s’ emotional and social development

The RAW project will help to discover what affects young people’s emotional development. We will start with a large group of young people in Year 6 and assess them every year throughout high school. The study will look at how they change and develop emotionally over their teenage years to further understand the factors that promote emotional resilience and wellbeing. Understanding the forces that shape teenage development holds a key to building a stronger and more productive society.

Contact: natasha.magson@mq.edu.au or ella.oar@mq.edu.au

Treating anxiety and depression in young people

Our research strives to develop, evaluate and improve treatments tailored to the individual rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The renowned Cool Kids Anxiety Program and the various adaptations have been developed through numerous years of research conducted at the Centre for Emotional Health. This research has culminated not only in a treatment program that is delivered in schools and psychology practices around world but also in an online training and accreditation program for mental health professionals. The training we offer to professionals is based on evidence.

Contact: nicholle.mcniece@mq.edu.au

Comorbid anxiety and depression in teens

To increase our understanding of adolescent emotional difficulties and to improve treatment programs for anxiety and depression in teenagers, we have developed and evaluated a treatment that targets both anxiety and depression simultaneously. This program is one of the only integrated treatments for anxiety and depression in Australia.

Contact: carolyn.schniering@mq.edu.au

Treating specific phobias in youth

Specific phobias are one of the most common anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. If untreated these disorders tend to persist and lead to the development of a range of more severe mental health disorders, such as other types of anxiety disorders, mood disorders and substance abuse problems. Our research aims to better understand the factors underlying the development of phobias in addition to enhancing treatment outcomes and access for youth who suffer from these debilitating fears.

Contact: ella.oar@mq.edu.au

Anxiety and depression in adults and older adults

Understanding fear learning and treatment to reduce fear in older adults

Approximately 1.5 million older Australians are predicted to have an anxiety disorder by 2050, yet little is known about how older adults develop fears and how they learn to overcome these fears later in life. Our research will examine the impact of older age and anxiety disorders on fear learning and recovery mechanisms, and the efficacy of a new behavioural technique to reduce fear and prevent it from returning.

Contact: carly.johnco@mq.edu.au

Obsessive-compulsive disorder and hoarding

Our research seeks to improve treatment for these conditions by understanding the mechanisms that maintain these conditions. We then use the newly acquired information to revamp current evidence-based treatments.

Contact: melissa.norberg@mq.edu.au or ella.oar@mq.edu.au

Physical and mental health

Gut and brain function

Individuals diagnosed with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), have much higher than normal rates of clinically diagnosable anxiety and depressive disorders. We are working to understand the psychobiological mechanisms that trigger and maintain the link between the psychological disorders and these apparently physical disorders. We are also investigating how neurophysiological recording tools (eg electroencephalography and electrogastrography) might be used in capturing the order in which the gut and pain processing centres in the brain respond to physical discomfort among people with high anxiety.

Contact: mike.jones@mq.edu.au or anastasia.ejova@mq.edu.au

Somatic health and anxiety/depression

About 40 per cent of children and adolescents may experience functional somatic health complaints, which are medically benign – that is, they have no identified organic cause. These include recurring abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, headaches, chest pains, dizziness and nausea. Research has shown that these children are prone to have increased rates of school absenteeism, and this may also have an impact on their learning, peer relations and overall quality of life. Studies have also indicated that up to 80 per cent of children and adolescents struggling to cope with these recurring functional somatic health complaints may also be experiencing anxiety and/or depressive problems. We are currently researching the effectiveness of a treatment program designed to specifically help children learn how to concurrently cope and manage their somatic symptoms as well as learn stress management skills.

Contact: maria.kangas@mq.edu.au

Life-threatening and progressive medical conditions and emotional wellbeing

Life-threatening medical conditions or caring for persons with life-threatening or progressive medical conditions, such as breast cancer and dementia, can be emotionally challenging. Our research aims to understand what factors help people emotionally recover from medical and other stressful life events, as well as helping family carers. We are also testing therapy programs tailored towards specific stress and creating online decision tools (such as breast reconstruction decisions) to help people recover and enhance their resiliency.

Contact: kerry.sherman@mq.edu.au and maria.kangas@mq.edu.au

Sociocultural factors that impact emotional health

Humans are social beings. Our social relationships and cultural norms not only shape our attitudes and beliefs but also influence our mental and physical health. Our research aims to identify sociocultural factors that negatively impact people’s wellbeing and to find ways to reduce that impact. Given the widespread popularity of social media among young people, we are particularly interested in understanding how social media usage may impact body image, mood and anxiety.

Contact: jasmine.fardouly@mq.edu.au

Eating and body image disorders

Our research focuses on challenging eating disorder stereotypes and improving how we define and treat eating and body image disorders. This includes understanding the link between obesity and mental health, uncovering who experiences and what characterises eating and body image disorders. Our ultimate aim is to close the gap on detection and provision of treatment to people who do not meet current eating disorder stereotypes and to provide them with effective treatment.

Contact: deborah.mitchison@mq.edu.au, jasmine.fardouly@mq.edu.au or melissa.norberg@mq.edu.au

Mental health and wellbeing in Australian and Bangladeshi adults

Researchers: Samiul Hossain and Maria Kangas

We are seeking adults who identify as Australian, Bangladeshi or both to take part in a cross-cultural study in which we are comparing the mental health knowledge and well-being of Australian and Bangladeshi adults aged 18 to 65 years.

You will be required to participate in three different tasks. The first task involves an online survey, the second is a structured clinical interview, and the final task will require participants to maintain a diary.

SONA participants will be awarded credit for the first two tasks (Survey and Interview). All other participants will go into a drawer to win one of five $50 vouchers.

Contact: samiul.hossain@hdr.mq.edu.au or 0401 169 763

Recruitment has concluded for this trial.

Back to the top of this page