Mental Health

Research Overview

Almost four million Australians will experience a mental illness in any one year. Responding to the growing burden of mental health problems in the Australian community is the focus of the Mental Health Research Program. Health care for common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety is mainly delivered in the general practice and primary health care setting. Eighty percent of people who seek professional care for depressive symptoms seek care from their GP. Our research has a particular focus on aspects of person-centered  primary care led mental health that enhances physical and mental well-being.

Our research focus and expertise

  • 10-years of data about 789 study participant's patterns of depression in Australia
  • Testing a clinical predition tool to identify risk of depression and tailor treatments
  • Developing evidence-based interventions for Stepped Care Models
  • Innovations in technologies for mental health care treatment and management in primary care
  • E-mental health implementation in the primary care setting
  • Co-design/co-production implementation in mental health services
  • 3 years of data about 260 people with severe mental illness and their recovery experiences and physical health

The Mental Health Research Program is the largest research program area of the Primary Care Research Unit, Department of General Practice and the leading research group in primary care mental health in Australia. Our team is supported by nationally competitive funding.

Our Research Program is part of a vibrant culture of collaboration and exchange through the Department’s Visiting Academic program that hosts visitors from around Australia and internationally from Europe, the UK and North America. Over the past 5 years the Mental Health Research Program has hosted and mentored 7 international postdoctoral research fellows including: 

  • Dr Christine Ladegaard Geyti (2016) University of Aarhus, Denmark; 
  • Dr Caroline Wachtler (2014-2015) Karolinska Institute, Sweden; 
  • Dr Marjorie Johnston (2014) University of Aberdeen, Scotland; 
  • Dr Gilles Ambresin, (2011-2013) University of Lausanne, Switzerland; 
  • Dr Jennifer Terpstra, (2011) University of British Columbia, Canada; 
  • Dr Lauralie Richards (2013-2015) University of Montreal, Canada.

Our research program is closely aligned with policy and practice as evidenced by our representation on key boards and committees including: the board of a Primary Health Network (PHN), a number of National committees central to mental health care reform (e.g. National Mental Health Standards Performance Framework Expert Panel; the Mental Health Expert Reference Group), Expert Primary Care Advisor to the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme, advisory role to the Australian Government’s Science Priorities and Mental Health Expert Reference Group,  Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Expert Reference Group for Mental Health Innovation, Department of Health and Human Services and Cancer Council Human Research Ethics Committees and the National Steering Committee for the trial and subsequent national roll out of a new model of mental health care across the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs mental health service networks in Australia.


Professor Jane Gunn (Head of Research Program) - Department of General Practice 

Dr Patty Chondros (Biostatistician) - Department of General Practice

Ms Jacqui Cameron (Research Fellow) - Department of General Practice 

Ms Amy Coe (Senior Research Assistant) - Department of General Practice 

Dr Sandra Davidson (Post-Doc Research Fellow) - Department of General Practice 

Ms Konstancja Densley (Data Manager) - Department of General Practice 

Dr Susie Fletcher (Post-Doc Research Fellow) - Department of General Practice 

Ms Kali Godbee (Senior Research Assistant) - Department of General Practice 

Dr Caroline Johnson (Research Fellow) - Department of General Practice

Ms Roxanne Kritharidis (Project Support Officer) - Department of General Practice 

Dr Victoria Palmer (Senior Research Fellow, Deputy Head of Research Program) - Department of General 

Ms Maria Potiriadis (Research Program Coordinator) - Department of General Practice


Australian Collaborations

  • Deakin University
  • University of Queensland
  • University of New South Wales
  • Orygen
  • Lifeline
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Black Dog
  • The Hearth Centre
  • Tandem - representing Victorian mental health carers
  • Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC)
  • Australian Taxi Industry Association

International Collaborations

  • University of Warwick
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Liverpool
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • University of Lausanne
  • McGill University


The Diamond Cohort Study: Initiated with pilot funding from the beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence and the main cohort has received project grant funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (ID  1002908, 299869, 454463, 566511 & 1002908). The one year Computer Assisted Telephone Interview was funded by a Stream 3 grant from the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI) which is supported by a grant from the Australian Government Department of Healt h and Ageing.

The CORE Study: funded by the Mental Illness Research Fund and the Psychiatric Illness an Intellectual Disability Donations Trust Fund (MIRF). The Mental Illness Research Fund aims to support the collaborative research into mental illness that may lead to better treatment and recovery outcomes for Victorians with mental illness and their families and carers. (2012-2016)

The Target-D Trial : NHMRC Project Grant APP1059863 (2014-2018)

Driving for Change: Melbourne Networked Society Institute Seed Funding (2015-2016)

A novel cure – the health and well-being outcomes of creative practices in ageing: Funded by the Melbourne Social Equity Institute - Interdisciplinary Seed Funding Scheme (2015)

NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health Systems Improvement : Funded in 2012 by the National Health and Medical Research Council (2012-2017)

Self-help for depression and diabetes-related distress in people with Type 2 diabetes (SpringboarD): Funded by an NHMRC Project Grant APP1083116 (2015-2018)

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.