University of South Australia researchers have secured funding for key mental health projects to help young women, veterans, and stroke patients, who often struggle with depression.

Breakthrough has partnered with UniSA to investigate mental health triggers in these areas and look at the most effective treatments.

Professor Nicole Moulding, Dr Michele Jarldorn and Dr Jane Andrew will use the funds to develop a pilot mental health peer support program for young women at risk.

Helping veterans who are struggling with mental health issues will be the focus of another project involving Dr Dannielle Post, Professor Gaynor Parfitt, Dr Katherine Baldock and Dr Kate Gunn.

A third project will target new therapies for stroke patients, including the use of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to alleviate depression which is common in stroke sufferers. This project will be led by Dr Brenton Hordacre and include Professor Susan Hillier and Dr Anson Chau.

UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise, Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, says it’s never been more critical to prioritise mental health and wellbeing and invest in research by partnering with Australia’s only dedicated mental health research foundation.

“Research is the only way to find the causes and the triggers of mental illness and to help recognise the early warning signs, guide the development of new technology, and to make sure that mental health treatment is based on the best, most effective scientific evidence,” Prof Hughes-Warrington says.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unimaginable chaos and uncertainty to our daily lives, exacerbating mental health conditions during a period where many have been experiencing even greater social isolation than before.

“One in five Australians are affected by mental illness each year and it remains one of the leading causes of death and disability among adolescents and adults.

“Together, with these dedicated and bright minds from UniSA, we aim to eradicate mental illness and the devastation it often brings, to create a world free from this insidious disease.”

Breakthrough Executive Director John Mannion said the three UniSA research projects fit within the foundation’s priority funding areas.

“Breakthrough undertook an analysis with EY Australia that identified our four key areas of research, based on where it’s needed the most, as well as capacity building on our strengths here in South Australia. These priority areas are depression, indigenous mental health, eating disorders and youth mental health,” Mannion says.

“By focusing on these areas, and through generous donations, we have been able to establish a relationship with UniSA that will provide incredible research into mental health.”