The Mental Health Policy and Services Research (MH-PASR) team in the Policy and Epidemiology Group (PEG) are involved in a range of projects designed to elucidate the impact of major mental health reforms in Australia, based on analyses of epidemiological and service utilisation data. Key activities include:

NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health Systems Improvement (CREMSI)

CREMSI website:

This Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) five year project commenced in 2012, funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Research Direction

Led by Harvey Whiteford, the overarching goal of this CRE is to design a model mental health service system for Australia that would optimally reduce the burden of mental disorders, a detailed analysis of how the model differs from the existing service system, with the identification of policy instruments and a knowledge transfer strategy describing how policy and services need to be changed to move from the existing system to the model system. A program of work will be conducted to reach this goal, while delivering scientific advances and building research capacity in:

  1. Priority setting for cost-effective mental health interventions and service platforms
  2. Mental health system planning to maximize the delivery of evidence based services
  3. Translation of evidence-based service system planning into policy

Research Program

The CRE will create an interconnected evidence base assembled by mental health epidemiologists, health economists, clinicians, health service researchers and planners, and health policy analysts and political scientists. The program of research comprises three research streams, each corresponding to one of the research objectives identified above.

The Interventions and Cost-Effectiveness Research Stream will describe population treatment need and assemble the cost effective interventions and service platforms that would most efficiently reduce the burden of mental and substance use disorders across the service continuum from prevention to rehabilitation.

The Service Systems Research Stream will design a model service delivery system, with planning targets and tools for a knowledge transfer strategy.

The Evidence into Policy Research Stream will develop methods for translating the model service system into the policy environment; specifically into identifying the policy instruments governments use and how to impact the policy making processes of  government.

NHMRC CRE Collaborators

  • Professor Louisa Degenhardt, NHMRC Principal Research Fellow, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales
  • Professor Jane Pirkis, Director, Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
  • Associate Professor Cathy Mihalopoulos, Senior Health Economist, Deakin Health Economics, Population Health Strategic Research Centre, Deakin University
  • Professor Kathy Eagar, Professor of Health Services Research and Director of the Australian Health Services Research Institute, University of Wollongong
  • Professor Gavin Andrews, Professor of Psychiatry, St Vincent’s Hospital, University of New South Wales
  • Professor Brian Head, Program Leader, Policy Analysis, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland
  • Professor Jane Gunn, Chair of Primary Care Research and Head, Academic Centre for General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Wayne Hall, NHMRC Australia Fellow, UQ Centre for Clinical Research, University of Queensland
  • Professor George Patton, Chair in Adolescent Health Research, Centre for Adolescent Health, Royal Children’s Hospital, University of Melbourne

Evidence-Informed Service Planning

This includes numerous projects designed to utilise research evidence to inform mental health policy and planning in Australia, such as reviewing evidence based approaches to service delivery, estimating community need, and producing planning estimates for mental health and drug and alcohol services.

Program Evaluation

The team are involved in a number of projects analysing data to inform the planning and evaluation of major mental health programs and reforms.

Local/Global Service Utilisation

This area includes the analysis and reporting of findings from local and global epidemiological and administrative mental health datasets to examine patterns of mental health service utilisation and the quality of treatment received by people with mental disorders.