Aged Mental Health Research Unit

Hands

About the Aged Mental Health Research Unit

The Aged Mental Health Research Unit (AMHRU) studies depression and anxiety in residential aged care settings, the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, ways to reduce over-prescribing of psychotropic medications, and brain stimulation therapies. We conduct clinical trials of psychological interventions for late life mental health, including individual psychotherapy for aged care residents and training programs for residential care staff to better manage residents with dementia and depression.

AMHRU is a partner of the Commonwealth Government's Dementia Collaborative Research Centre with responsibility and investigating non-pharmacological treatments of the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

We have several honours, masters, and doctoral level students currently conducting their research projects within our unit, and welcome all students.

Sample of Research Projects

  • A randomised controlled trial of a brief psychological intervention to reduce depression in at-risk newly admitted aged care residents.
  • Development of a personalised multimedia device (‘Memory Box’) to treat behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (in collaboration with the Department of Design).
  • Cochrane review of psychological therapies for depression in older adults in long-term care settings.
  • A pilot evaluation of acceptance and commitment therapy with older adults.
  • Prevalence, detection and correlates of anxiety in residential aged care facilities.
  • Risk and protective factors for depression in residential aged care settings.
  • Investigation of factors associated with adjustment to residential aged care among older people with dementia
  • Deprescribing: Reducing unnecessary use of psychotropic medications in nursing homes.

Meet the AMHRU team

Head of Division

Dr Chris Plakiotis has research interests in brain stimulation therapies and depression.

After completing his undergraduate Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree through Monash University, Chris Plakiotis undertook specialist training in Psychiatry through Monash Health.  In addition to attaining Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, he has completed Advanced Training in Adult Psychiatry and Psychiatry of Old Age as well as completing a Master of Psychological Medicine degree through Monash University. 
In parallel to his clinical training and work, Chris has worked as a Research Fellow for Monash University, completing a Master’s degree in Clinical Research and submitting a Doctor of Medicine thesis (by publication) whilst in this position.  His thesis is based on a series of papers regarding electroconvulsive therapy. 
As well as being an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Chris is a practicing Consultant in Adult and Old Age Psychiatry.  He is currently the Acting Clinical Head of the Aged Persons Mental Health Service at Monash Health.  Chris has recently attained Associate Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators and is undertaking ongoing study towards a Master’s degree in Medical Leadership. 

Emeritus Professor Daniel O'Connor
Professor O'Connor has published over 130 papers and chapters on epidemiology, the recognition and management of dementia and depression in general medical practice, non-pharmacological treatments of behaviour disorders in dementia, and service evaluation..
Find out more about Professor Daniel O'Connor.

Senior Research Fellow
Dr Tanya Davison
Dr Davison is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in the mental health of older adults. Her research activities focus on interventions to improve the care of older adults in residential aged care settings, and she has a particular interest in those with depression and dementia. She teaches in undergraduate and postgraduate psychology programs, and supervises honours, masters and doctoral students.
Find out more about Dr Tanya Davison.

Senior Lecturer
Dr Ian Presnell

Opportunities

If you are thinking of a career in psychiatry, psychology or research with a focus on Aged Mental Health, the AMHRU in the School of Clinical Sciences is a great place to start. We are located at Kingston Centre, a 315-bed facility that plays a vital role in providing aged care, aged mental health services and rehabilitation programs for adults of all ages.