Senior Brawn Fellow Professor Amanda Baker’s revolutionary research reveals combined treatment is best for alcohol and depression.

Donation helps research into depression and alcohol treatment


Landmark research by one of Australia's leading clinical psychologists is poised to reshape treatment for people suffering the combined effects of substance abuse and depression.

Clinical trials led by Professor Amanda Baker have confirmed that people suffering from alcohol or drug abuse problems combined with depression recover better with integrated treatment for both conditions rather than single focus treatments.

Professor Baker is one of the recipients of the Brawn Senior Research Fellowship, made possible by the Gladys M Brawn Memorial Fellowship scheme.

The scheme was established at the request of Leslie Harold Brawn, who passed away in 1995, to honour his late wife, Gladys.The $5 million bequest has so far supported nine Senior Brawn Fellows, 21 Post-Doctoral Brawn Fellows and four Research Higher Degree scholars, all conducting valuable research with the potential to change the lives of people around the world.

Baker noted that all but a handful of previous investigations had screened out subjects with co-morbid conditions - that is the co-existence of two or more diseases or health disorders.

"Up to 80 per cent of people in treatment for problems with alcohol or other drugs also report mental health problems."

"For example, clinicians have frequently told patients to address their drug or alcohol problems first before treating depression or vice-versa. Patients were finding themselves caught in the gaps between service providers.

"In the last few years I have extended my focus from addressing co-existing mental health and substance use problems, including smoking and alcohol consumption to also focusing on diet and activity levels," Professor Baker said.

"Research among people without a history of mental health treatment has shown that multiple health behaviour change is possible. I am developing interventions that target multiple health behaviours among people with severe mental disorders, being the first internationally to address substance use, diet and activity together."

Baker is a member of the University's Priority Research Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health.