Cognitive neuropsychologist, Professor Susan Rossell, has been chosen as the Isaac Schweitzer 2020 Awardee by Biological Psychiatry Australia. Named after leading Australian psychiatrist, this honour recognises Professor Rossell’s work in understanding neurocognitive conditions and how to remediate these cognitive difficulties.
“It is a great honour for my work and continued contribution to the field to have been recognised by my colleagues and peers,” says Professor Rossell, who is also a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Mental Health.
She adds, “I look forward to seeing everyone at my lecture in October.”
Getting to the root of mental health issues
Professor Rossell’s research focuses on understanding cognition in psychosis and related disorders. “Problems with cognition, that is our memory, attention and thinking skills, occur to everyone, however, they are particularly common during periods of stress, sleep deprivation and as we age,” she explains.
“People who experience severe mental health difficulties, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, unfortunately experience more severe and persistent cognitive difficulties,” Professor Rossell adds.
At present we do not have effective treatments. Professor Rossell’s research is ensuring that we develop novel pharmacological and psychological intervention to assist people with their cognitive problems.
Most recently, Professor Rossell and her team at the Centre for Mental Health launched a national survey to assess the mental health of Australians in the face of COVID-19.
“We’ve noticed there’s a lot of stress about COVID-19, but we wanted to understand the source of this stress and how Australians are reacting to the situation,” Professor Rossell explains.
The survey opens for 48 hours on the first day of every month to track the mental state of Australians during the different stages of the COVID-19 situation. Preliminary results from this survey delved into how COVID-19 has affected people’s eating and exercise behaviours, as well as how pandemic conditions affect individuals with mood disorders. We are currently examining data looking how our cognition has been impacted.
Results from the survey will be used to inform future policy and decision-making to support the mental health of Australians.
Paving the way for better treatment options
Biological Psychiatry Australia is a society established for professionals interested in the advancement of biological research in psychiatry.
The society applies biological techniques to investigate and better understand the causes of psychiatric disorders and the translation of neuroscience treatment to develop more effective clinical treatments for these disorders.