Emma Seevak

Emma is currently a visiting researcher at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, under the supervision of Associate Professor Meredith Harris.

Emma’s research involves mental health policy in Australia, specifically regarding alcohol use disorders and family caregivers for people with serious mental illness.

Tell me about yourself and your background, how did you find out about the opportunity to pursue your research career through QCMHR?

I’m an undergraduate student at Harvard University studying Sociology with a minor in Global Health and Health Policy. My primary interest is mental health, and I was looking for an opportunity to learn about mental health policy and to develop my quantitative research skills.

I spent last summer as an intern at Sangath, a mental health research organisation in Goa, India, and one of the other interns there had spent time at QCMHR and suggested that it would be a good fit for my interests.

What does your research look at and what inspired you to pursue this project in particular?

My main project involves using longitudinal survey data to examine the outcomes of an Australian Medicare program called Better Access that provides coverage for psychological services provided by psychologists and other allied mental healthcare practitioners. I’ve also been involved in two side projects: one about the time, financial, and emotional burdens that family members of people with serious mental and physical disorders sometimes face in Australia, and one about state-level policy design for mental health and substance use disorders. These projects have been wonderful in helping me gain understanding of mental health in the Australian context, as well as pushing me to be more thorough and thoughtful in quantitative projects.

Where to from here, what are your plans for your future as a researcher?

In the short-term, I’ll head back to university in the United States, where I have 2 years left in pursuit of my Bachelor’s degree. I’m definitely planning to continue working in mental health after I graduate, but I’m not sure whether I’ll pursue work in research, policy, implementation, direct care delivery, teaching at a university, or (most likely) some combination of the above. In any case, I’m grateful to QCMHR for providing me with the opportunity to learn from such an incredible group of researchers.