Authors: Jennifer Debenham
Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Featured Symposium: Mental Health, Substance Use and Discrimination - Three Key Issues for Australian Young People.
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: Ms Jennifer Debenham is a Doctor of Philosophy candidate at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney. Jennifer is interested in developing and evaluating neuroscience-based AOD harm minimisation programs for older adolescents so to nurture a drug literate youth population
Jennifer Debenham Adolescent substance use: what does the brain think about this?
A recent survey by Mission Australia of over 28,000 young Australians aged 15-19 found that mental health, alcohol and drugs and equity and discrimination were the three top ranked issues of concern for young people. Similarly, Triple J’s “What’s up in your World Survey?” in late 2018 found that mental health was rated as the most important issue facing young people. The same survey also found that only around a third of people who felt they needed help for alcohol or drug problems actually got it. This symposium will feature three brief presentations by young researchers and students related to each of these three topics. The first will investigate lived experience of mental health issues and suicide attempts among youth, the second will explore the effects of substance use on the adolescent brain, and the third will present data from a recent community survey about stigma, discrimination and barriers to help-seeking for young people who use crystal methamphetamine. High school students from a local QLD school will participate in the symposium and offer their own perspectives on these issues and on the information presented in the talks. There will also be opportunity for interaction and discussion with the audience.
This symposium has been co-ordinated by Lauren Gardner, Steph Kershaw and Cath Chapman at the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Prevention and Early Intervention (PREMISE CRE) and the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use. It will feature young presenters from these organisations as well as the Black Dog Institute at UNSW and Scots PGC College, QLD.
Learning Objective 1: Attendees of this symposium will gain insight into the three most important issues to Australian young people today: mental health, substance use, and equity and discrimination. With a specific focus on youth, speakers will explore these issues, presenting evidence from their research and, if relevant, their lived experience. Moreover, attendees will have the opportunity to observe and participate in an interactive discussion with the speakers and high school students. Students will offer commentary on the three presentations and pose questions to the speakers. It is expected that the session will be a thought-provoking and valuable session for all involved.
Learning Objective 2: Topic 1 is directly relevant to mental health and will primarily focus on improving our understanding of depression, anxiety and suicide among youth. Topics 2 and 3 extend to substance use, which is commonly comorbid with mental health conditions. Together, substance use and mental disorders are the leading global causes of burden of disease in young people. Additionally, topic 3 centres on stigma and discrimination associated with substance use which impacts mental health and wellbeing.