Collaborative Research Network for Mental Health and Well-being in Rural Communities

8 August 2011

The University of Sydney is one of five partners working with the University of New England (UNE)which has recently been awarded $4.8 million dollars from the Australian Government to establish a Collaborative Research Network (CRN) on Mental Health and Well-being in Rural and Regional Communities.

Mental health and well-being in rural areas is a critical public health issue with studies showing that people living in rural regions and remote areas tend to be in poorer health than those in urban areas and there is excessive mortality in rural areas related to mental health disorders. The differences in morbidity rates are linked to access to services and quality of life for those suffering from mental health disorders.

Under the CRN, UNE, UNSW, Sydney, Newcastle, La Trobe and the Hunter New England Area Health Service will work collaboratively to expand rural health strengths, and feed into the education of thousands of health professionals and better rural mental health services.

CRN activities will build links with rural communities and health providers in NSW and Victoria, with a focus on investigating and improving mental health and wellbeing.

The CRN is supported by a large and dynamic bio-psychosocial team of senior academic staff across the five universities, with the University of Sydney arm led by the Australian Family and Disability Studies Research Collaborationin the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The activities of the CRN will build links with rural communities and health providers with focus on three thematic areas:

UNE, Sydney, Newcastle and HNELHN will focus on the theme 'Self-care and mental health within regional communities'. Several major research projects will address:

  • Building rural mental health workforce capacity
  • Disability across the lifespan
  • Suicide in rural areas
  • Mental health resilience, self care and social capital in rural areas.

Other CRN themes are 'Sexuality, identity & mental health impacts on well-being and inclusion' (UNE, La Trobe University - Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society) and 'Biomedical science to support rural mental health' (UNE, UNSW, Newcastle).

The funding was recently announced by the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Senator the Hon Kim Carr as part of a total of $61.5 million in support for Collaborative Research Networks programs.

For more information on the CRN and the thematic area of self-care and mental health within regional communities, please contact Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn at