ALIVE - A National Research Translation Centre to Implement Mental Health Care at Scale in Primary Care and Community Settings
The National Research Translation Centre to Implement Mental Health Care at Scale in Primary Care and Community Settings (ALIVE) marks a new era in mental health care across Australia. The funding ($10M) was announced 16th March 2021 for five years from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Special Initiative in Mental Health (SIMH)
The SIMH called for “innovative, high quality implementation research to improve health outcomes and outlooks for people living with mental illness.” It suggested that, “the centre will operate as a virtual network across Australia, coordinated by a single institution acting as an administrative hub”.
The University of Melbourne welcomes the opportunity to be the administrative hub for the network and to support the SIMH call for “a multidisciplinary and nationally focused team to establish a national centre for innovation in mental health care as a collaborative network across Australia.”
The National Research Translation Centre to implement Mental Health Care at Scale will operate as a 'networks within a nexus model' and to be informed by co-design approaches at all levels of research. A nexus is taken to mean a series of connections and intersections linking two or more things. The networks currently proposed within the Centre are shown in Figure 1. There are some existing Centre network partners, but all of the networks will have open membership to ensure that key institutions, existing national networks in mental health, and other relevant bodies are engaged in implementation and translation research activities, including in the planning and scoping of these works.
Figure 1: Nexus operating model for the National Research Translation Centre in Mental Health
The nexus operating model for the networks is the vehicle by which the Centre will implement its vision to:
Reduce the individual, social and economic impacts of mental illness burden and health inequalities by transforming the primary care and community settings to: 1) embed novel preventive life course models; 2) implement mental-physical health tailored models of care with priority populations; 3) be informed by lived-experience models and leadership.
To this end, the Centre has established a preliminary collective governance structure comprised of: an Intersectoral Policy and Practice Committee, an International Scientific Committee, and an Executive Research Leadership Committee. These Committees report to an Independent Governance Board that will ensure representation across all States and Territories. All leads of the Alive Networks and the planned research programs are members of the Executive Leadership Research Group, this includes people with lived-experience of mental ill-health and carers being appointed to Co-Chair roles. The Centre has set a quota for four lived-experience Co-Chairs for each committee and the board. Public calls for expressions of interest to appoint further members for yet to be filled Co-Chair roles will follow. The current collective governance structure can be seen in Figure 2.
Figure 2. Collective governance structure
The funded research programs of work for the National Centre include: (1) prevention across the life course, (2) priority populations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people living with severe mental illnesses) (3) mental health care at scale. An objective of the Centre is to support research capacity building for the next generation of mental health researchers and the workforce. A network has been put forward for this with co-leadership from early and mid-career researchers. There is an objective to support the establishment of an initial Academy-style concept to be co-designed to support lived-experience research career pathways and lived-experience led research in Australia. A lived-experience research leadership group will be formed for this.
All research programs for ALIVE National Research Translation Centre to implement mental health care at scale in the primary care and community setting address the objective of the SIMH call to “improve experience of care through more effective and innovative models of care and health system redesign, and to reduce early mortality through evidence-based strategies for addressing physical, behavioural, psychological and other determinants.”
Research program (3) includes an extensive co-design process for the planned Centre translation roadmap and a public engagement model to support translation of research to communities. Some public engagement activities will include an innovative podcast series, communications using creative methods and a training program for all research members. The Centre recognises that diversity of experiences are important for shaping the processes, and that there will be interested members for different networks to engage further. Information to guide the co-design processes will be available soon.
If you would like to register interest in the Alive Network, or have any questions, or would like to provide the team with work you are doing currently that may inform the Centre and its networks and planning phases, please do contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on the existing Co-design Living Lab program, please visit our website.
Our Centre will provide more information on establishment plans via our digital platform currently under construction and is open to conversations.
Registration for the Next Gen Researcher Network is now open! Registration are open to all research higher degree (RHD) students and mid to early career researchers across mental health.
One of the key objectives of the ALIVE Centre is to provide the opportunity to bring together future mental health research leaders to deliver capacity building support and innovative programs for career development. The Next Gen Researcher Network will deliver a program of seminars, training opportunities, and mentoring for RHD students and postdoctoral researchers.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Special Initiative in Mental Health grant APP2002047