There is international recognition of the premature death and disability costs in young people due to major mood disorders. In Australia alone, one in every four people aged 16 to 24 have experienced a mental health disorder. To reduce this burden, it is essential to provide effective and safe treatments early in the course of treatment. However, the evidence base for choosing the most relevant treatment strategies for young people is limited.
Funded in 2013 by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, this Centre of Research Excellence in Optimising Early Interventions for Young People with Emerging Mood Disorders (Optymise) brings together key researchers in the area of youth mental health to address this great health challenge.
The collaboration combines our national expertise across three major clinical research centres, the Brain and Mind Research Institute, the Black Dog Institute and Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, and links them with other major Australia centres and new strategic clinical and research developments, including the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre. Our national capacity will integrate with research innovation and training in key European and North American centres, including the National Institute of Mental Health (USA), the National Center for Scientific Research (France) and the University of Newcastle (UK). These collaborations will provide the backbone for Optymise and promote cross disciplinary exchange of skill and knowledge.
The main objective of Optymise is to increase the number of young people receiving optimised interventions for emerging mood disorders and deliver those interventions earlier in the course of illness.
This will be achieved through the coordination of clinical trials delivered at scale, which will generate new knowledge with regard to novel behavioural and pharmacological therapies and emerging markers of illness risk or progression, as well as optimal methods for engaging young people in their care. The results of such trials will be used to inform clinical practice and underpin health policy and related health services development.
Alongside this, Optymise has a primary focus on supporting career development in talented researchers and junior clinicians with a goal of creating the workforce that will lead future clinical research in the area of youth depression.