Health, mental health and disability

Wellbeing arises from the complex interaction of individual, family, and wider community and cultural resources

Our health, mental health and disability research contributes to new ways of optimising health and wellbeing across the life course. Wellbeing arises from the complex interaction of individual, family, and wider community and cultural resources. Our health, mental health and disability research is underpinned by our investment in new knowledge for practice and policy – knowledge that bridges lived experiences and our complex systems of care and support, such as supportive care in cancer, or trauma-informed care in mental health and post-disaster recovery.

Our health research is developed primarily with our long-standing social work partnerships in hospitals in the Parkville Precinct. For people facing health crises and chronic conditions, adaptation and resilience is made more possible when they are well-resourced – particularly through understanding family and carer experiences, the structural inequalities that contribute to poor health outcomes, and the systems and resources that redress these matters. Our health research deepens understandings of survivor experiences, the concerns and needs of families, caregivers and carers, and the enabling systems and practices of social work intervention. Our research extends to ongoing collaborations with international partners in India, related to the social determinants of chronic disease.

Similarly, our mental health research is built on consumer perspectives and co-designed approaches. Our focus is on supporting optimal recoveries for people in the face of extreme adversity – including suicide prevention, abuse and trauma, and disaster recovery, particularly bushfires – through understanding survivor experiences, formal and informal interventions, and policy implications.

Our disability research is shaped by our partnership with the Melbourne Disability Institute. With the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the daily lives of people living with disability and their families and carers are changing. While many are well-supported by the Scheme, others face new and increasing inequalities and difficulties. In this changing context, consumers, families and friends, and carers live with new and ongoing stressors and challenges, as well as strengths and capacities. Our disability research critically examines these experiences of consumers and families, and the roles of social workers, service navigators and local area coordinators that are central to optimal service delivery.

Health, Mental Health

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Prof Louise Harms

Chair and Head, Department of Social Work, and Deputy Head, School of Health Sciences | Research interests include health, mental health and disability
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Prof Lynette Joubert

Professor - Direct Practice | Research areas include clarifying, measuring and evaluating the outcomes of social interventions in health and mental health, focusing on the contribution of formal and informal social network factors
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A/Prof David Rose

Associate Professor in Social Work, Director of Learning and Teaching, MSHS | Research areas include impact of criminal justice system, trauma and mental health, alcohol and other drugs, domestic & family violence, children and families across borders and health/mental health in forensic systems
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Dr Lauren Kosta

Lecturer | Research areas include family adaptation in circumstances of adversity such as those which bring families into health settings as well as post-disaster recovery contexts
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Dr Lyndal Hickey

Research Fellow | Research areas include policy, program and practice implementation to improve the lives of people living with disability, and their families in their communities
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Dr Jennifer Davidson

Course Coordinator, MSW | Research areas include navigating complex service systems, disability and the NDIS, social work in the legal and justice systems and the impact of social policy on health and wellbeing
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Dr Kath Sellick

Lecturer | Experienced in qualitative and mixed methods research with a particular focus on co-production. Her areas of research include trauma-informed care, mental health, disability, and diversity and inclusion
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Dr Nicole Hill

Senior Lecturer - Social Work Field Education

PhD Students

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Andrea Bryk

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Meg Chin

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Robyn Clark

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Vanessa Davis

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Ernestina Di Marco

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Kylie Dowse

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Melissa Gibbs

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Monica Hadges

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Sophie Hatzipashalis

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Sarah Martin

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Anthony Newcastle

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Peta Phelan

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Lisa Spriggens

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Bree Weizenegger

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Lisa Wojciechoswski

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Nicola Wylie