Mental health in the regions becomes fresh focus for CQU First Nations researcher

22 February 2023

A new role with a national mental health institute has opened doors for a CQUniversity researcher to make an impact in regional Queensland.

With 20 years' experience in social justice research' Arrernte woman Dr Vicki Pascoe has a wealth of knowledge and passion for people living in regional Australia.

She believes a collaborative approach by researchers at the coalface could help to address the mental health and wellbeing needs of people living in rural and regional areas.

That's why Dr Pascoe has recently been appointed to the Manna Institute' which unites leading mental health researchers from seven regional universities to engage in research' workforces' and practical' place-based programs.

The Institute has $3.66 million in Commonwealth funding to drive the initiatives.

Dr Pascoe said regional and rural Australians face immense challenges in accessing mental health support and services' and a deliberate approach is needed to engage regional researchers to help find solutions to the complex issues they face.

"My work with the Manna Institute will enable me to collaborate with like-minded researchers in an effort to find solutions to some of the regions' biggest needs in mental health'" Dr Pascoe said.

"The regions have their own specific issues that need solutions' and regional researchers are best placed to understand the problems and find solutions."

Dr Pascoe joins CQUniversity colleagues researcher Dr Cassy Dittman' and chief investigator Professor Chris Doran' at the Institute.

As a social justice researcher' Dr Pascoe has an interest in First Nation's health and wellbeing' experiences of first-time university students' and the mental health of regional medical staff.

Operating as an innovative virtual research and training initiative - the first of its kind in Australia - the Manna Institute includes Regional Universities Network (RUN) members CQUniversity' Charles Sturt University' Federation University' Southern Cross University' the University of Southern Queensland' the University of Sunshine Coast and lead institution the University of New England.

Professor Chris Doran said the Manna Institute had the potential to leave a legacy of transforming regional people's lives.

"Australia is experiencing a mental health crisis and regional Australians are most at risk'" he said.

"The obvious strength of this institute is its people and their commitment to improving mental health outcomes for Australians living in rural and remote regions.

"The institute's research agenda will strengthen the knowledge-base around mental health' and ultimately lead to more effective solutions."