Kara is currently completing her PhD candidature at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, under the supervision of Professor Harvey Whiteford, Dr Fiona Charlson, Associate Professor Meredith Harris and Associate Professor Thomas Burne. Kara’s research involves modelling the global treatment coverage of depressive disorders.
Tell me about yourself and your background, how did you find out about the opportunity to pursue your research career through QCMHR?
During my undergraduate degree, I discovered a fascination with the complexity of brain, how it modulates all human behaviours and how it is disrupted in disease. As I result, I completed an Honours year at QCMHR, with the Developmental Neurobiology Group at the Queensland Brain Institute, under the supervision of Associate Professor Thomas Burne. My Honours thesis focused on behavioural neuroscience and mental disorders. Through this experience, I realised that I had the desire to directly impact those afflicted with mental disorders at a population level. As such, I am now a PhD candidate (still at QCMHR) with the Policy and Epidemiology Group, under the direction of Professor Harvey Whiteford.
What does your research look at and what inspired you to pursue this project in particular?
My research aims to derive estimates of treatment coverage for depressive disorders globally. In my PhD, I am quantifying the number of people with depressive disorders receiving treatment for their depressive disorder on a global scale. The results of this study aim to inform existing health information systems, strengthen health systems monitoring, and improve reporting on the progress of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal pertaining to mental health. It allows me to produce immediate impact on an international level while exploring disparities in treatment and services, improving understanding and reducing stigma surrounding these disorders, and equitably decreasing the burden of disease.
Where to from here, what are your plans for your future as a researcher?
I am undertaking an internship at the World Health Organisation (WHO) this year. At the WHO I will be using country level data to further estimate treatment coverage of depressive disorders. Global Mental Health research has the ability to address some of the biggest health issues facing our world today. Thus, I aim to continue working with organisations, including QCMHR or the WHO, that develop and implement strategies to promote mental health well-being into the future.