Youth Mental Health Program
Youth Mental Health Studies Coordinator
Dr Daniel Hermens
Coordinator, Youth Mental Health Program
Head, Neurophysiology Lab
Level 2, 100 Mallett Street, Camperdown NSW 2050
T: +61 2 9351 0529
F: +61 2 9351 0731
On this page:
- Mapping neurobiological changes across mental health stages
- Characteristics of substance use & associated mental health problems
- Distinguishing psychosis with and without amphetamine use
The project is investigating neurobiological changes associated with illness onset and progression in people with (or at risk of) affective (depression and anxiety) and/or psychotic disorders. We are also investigating the effect of moderating variables such as substance use and medical history on illness progression. Participants undergo psychiatric and neuropsychological assessment, and complete self-report measures that assess levels of disability, depression, anxiety, stress, personality, occupational and social functioning which may in turn provide feedback for routine management where possible. Participants will also be asked to undergo an MRI scan. All participants will be invited to participate in follow-up assessments, 6-months after initial participation to determine changes in functioning and/or illness progression.
Despite the consistent association between substance use and mental health problems (MHPs), few studies have investigated the underlying neurobiology of these phenomena at early stages. It remains unclear why some substance users have MHPs and others do not. Using neuropsychological and neuroimaging measures, this study is examining a large cohort of substance users. This study will adopt a clinical staging approach, identifying early onset, high-risk individuals who may be more vulnerable to substance use and mental health problems. The identified brain function changes will help to delineate the pathways in different patterns of disability.
Despite the understanding that amphetamine use increases the risk for and exacerbates psychosis, few studies have investigated the underlying neurobiology. Young people with amphetamine psychosis present with very similar symptoms to first episode psychosis in schizophrenia. This study aims to distinguish between these groups using neurobiological markers. The findings will help identify amphetamine users who may be at risk of psychosis and reveal important information about the underlying mechanism of schizophrenia.