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.