Turner Institute poised to make a huge impact on mental health

Professor Kim Cornish
Professor Kim Cornish

The pandemic has seen a rise in Australians experiencing brain and mental health challenges. Philanthropy ensures Professor Kim Cornish can change this.

Pre-pandemic, Australians were already struggling with mental health challenges. With COVID-19, every one of us has been touched by chronic uncertainty, anxiety and isolation.

Philanthropic investment will help ensure we recover both our economic and mental wealth.

Led by Professor Kim Cornish, the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health was borne of a philanthropic vision to transform local communities through innovative early intervention into brain and mental health challenges.

Related: How students have fared through the pandemic, and what it means for universities beyond 2020

The late Mr. David Winston Turner foresaw the need to place the community at the centre of all brain and mental health research and translation.

The result has been Turner Institute researchers adopting a community-centric mindset and leveraging a host of accessible and scalable digital technologies to better understand, predict and intervene to optimise psychological wellbeing in our communities, starting in Melbourne’s South-East corridor.

Under Professor Cornish’s direction, the Turner Institute takes a holistic and preventative approach to brain and mental health issues across the lifespan.

Within the Institute’s Developing Well pillar, for instance, researchers have developed interactive digital tools to train vulnerable young brains (such as those with developmental brain disorders like Autism), and children from underserved communities such as low SES groups, refugee groups, and our indigenous and remote communities.

Other researchers working under the Living Well banner have focussed on high-stress occupations like frontline healthcare workers and construction to develop evidence-based digital tools tailored to help individuals remain alert, mentally healthy and productive.

Related: COVID-19: Understanding habits and compulsions

Optimising healthy aging is also an Institute priority – not only providing people with the digital tools they need to self-manage wellbeing as they journey through middle age, but using technological, lifestyle and community-based resources to avert the onset of devastating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“As an Institute, we are fortunate to have benefitted from the brilliant generosity and insight of David Winston Turner,” said Professor Cornish.

“We are making clear inroads into improving the lives of the most vulnerable in our community through our innovative digital platforms. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated our community’s needs and we have mobilised our community clinics in response.

“We are now on the cusp of bringing our telehealth clinics and digital mental tools together to provide a seamless intervention experience for all in the community. Further generosity will see us able to rapidly scale this new model and positively impact the population like never before.”

If you want to know more about supporting Professor Kim Cornish’s work, contact Marita O’Callaghan at  Marita.OCallaghan@monash.edu.

Stories from researchers in the Turner Institute:

Mental health and the coronavirus: How COVID-19 is affecting us

Is COVID-19 reshaping the Australian psyche?

The dark side: How too much light is making us sick

Coming to a head over concussion in Australian football