Mental health disorders

The Centre for Mental Health has done significant work on several disorders - psychosis, mood disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders. Areas we are building on are detailed below in the emerging specialities section.

Psychosis

Research leaders: Professor Susan Rossell, Associate Professor Neil Thomas, Professor Brian Dean, Professor Denny Meyer

Researchers: Dr Matthew Hughes, Dr Michelle Lim, Dr Eric Tan, Dr Wei Lin Toh, Dr William Woods

Professor Rossell and Associate Professor Thomas are internationally recognised for their research on auditory hallucinations (‘hearing voices’), a prominent symptom in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Their research informs understanding of the psychosocial precipitants of voices and the cognitive and brain mechanisms involved. They have advanced the treatment and outcomes for people experiencing hallucinations, and psychosis more broadly, through innovations in psychological therapy development, with support from NHMRC and Victorian state government funding.

Swinburne hosted the 2015 International Consortium on Hallucinations Research and we have collaborated with mental health consumer groups and the Hearing Voices Network.

Mood disorders

Research leaders: Professor Greg Murray, Professor Susan Rossell, Professor Brian Dean, Associate Professor Neil Thomas

Researchers: Professor Denny Meyer, Associate Professor Joseph Ciorciari, Dr Wei Lin Toh, Dr Ben Bullock, Dr Matthew Hughes

Professor Murray is internationally recognised for his work investigating the relationship between sleep, circadian rhythms and positive mood. Lately, he and Susan Rossell have focussed on the neurobiological networks involved in this sleep-mood relationship and emotion regulation and perception more broadly. Our researchers are renowned for their investigation of novel treatments, such as psychological, pharmacological and brain stimulation, and the use of nutraceuticals for mood disorders. We have attracted international and national research funding as well as industry funding for our research in depression.

Obsessive compulsive disorders

Research leader: Professor Susan Rossell

Researchers: Dr Maja Nedeljkovic, Dr Ryan Kaplan, Dr Wei Lin Toh, Associate Professor Bhar, Dr Brian Cornwell, Professor Denny Meyer, Dr Simone Buzwell

Several different, severe mental illnesses are currently classified within obsessive compulsive disorders: obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), hoarding disorder (HD), body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and trichotillomania (TTM).

Rossell, Kaplan and Toh have been working on understanding social, psychological, cognitive and neurobiological characteristics of BDD and and related body image disorders. They have collaborated with the Body Image and Eating Disorders Treatment and Research Service (BETRS) of which Susan is research director.

Nedeljkovic and Bhar have an international reputation for their research into obsessive compulsive and related disorders (OCARD). Dr Nedeljkovic is also currently leading the delivery and evaluation of group and online treatments for HD and investigating the treatment response and cost-effectiveness of various modes of treatments for OCD, HD, TTM and anxiety disorders.‌

Emerging specialities

Neurodevelopmental disorders

Researchers: Associate Professor Jordy Kaufman, Dr Ben Williams

Dr Kaufman is researching the cognitive brain development of infants and young children to assist in our understanding of delayed development and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder. Dr Kaufman runs the Swinburne BabyLab, which has received regular funding from ARC and other philanthropic trusts.

Dr Ben Williams is researching adolescent mental health issues, including addiction to computer games and understanding risky behavior.

Neurocognitive disorders (dementia)

Researchers: Associate Professor Sunil Bhar, Dr Brian Cornwell

Associate Professor Bhar is investigating psychosocial interventions for improving the quality of life of Australia's ageing populations and people with dementia.

Dr Cornwell is investigating the neurobiological mechanisms of dementia.

Personality disorders

Research leaders: Associate Professor Neil Thomas, Professor Susan Rossell

Researcher: Associate Professor Joseph Ciorciari

Professor Rossell and Associate Professor Thomas have recently expanded their research in auditory hallucinations to include persons with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Approximately 50% of patients diagnosed with BPD experience hallucinations. We are investigating differences between patients who do and don’t experience hallucinations.

Associate Professor Ciorciari has been investigating the neurobiology of personality disorders using structural and functional brain imaging.