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Monash online research could help prevent mental illness in children

Psychology courses


New research by the Monash School of Rural Health has found that a child whose parent has had a history of mental health illness, could be two or three times more likely to develop a mental illness themselves.

Monash Rural Mental Health research director Professor Darryl Maybery said the 'ground-breaking’ work coming from the university could be pivotal in helping prevent mental illness in children.

A pilot study of 30 people aged 18 to 25-years-old was run by Monash University last year and the results will soon be presented at a conference in Oslo. The study, called program, was created to equip affected youth with coping mechanisms and strategies to make positive steps towards adulthood.

Taking place over six weekly sessions, the study allowed young people to discuss topics that were moderated by Monash psychology students.

Professor Maybery said the participants showed reduced stress and depression following the facilitated discussions, which included topics on relationships and how their parents’ illness might impact on their mental health.

The study arose after an earlier research program on peer support experienced difficulty attracting enough young people to come together in one place, in person. Conducting research online provided a solution to this ongoing issue, as it helped make the study accessible to anyone, anywhere.

The stigma surrounding mental health problems still exists according to Professor Maybery, preventing young people from seeking treatment. Moving the research online not only improved access but allowed a more open and in-depth, family-focused discussion.

Learning from the success of this study, Professor Maybery hopes to secure funding to move a similar parent-related program online, making it more accessible.

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