Trial of new treatments for young people battling mental illness

8 July 2009

Deakin University psychology researchers are seeking young people suffering from depression, anxiety or drug and alcohol problems to be part of a clinical research trial of promising new treatments.

One in five adolescents are estimated to suffer depressive symptoms severe enough to impair their intellectual and social development. Depression often co-exists with anxiety and high rates of alcohol and drug use and impacts on family, friends and education.

Deakin clinical psychologist Associate Professor Andrew Lewis said the trial involved comparing a family treatment to an individual treatment, both of which had been shown to be effective in preliminary studies.

"Young people with depression and anxiety often continue to have mental health problems in later life if there is no adequate intervention," he said.

"We need to develop treatments specifically for this age group if we are to prevent or reduce lifelong suffering."

Despite the high co-occurrence of depression, anxiety and substance abuse, Associate Professor Lewis said there was surprisingly little research into treatments that target the combined disorders.

"Our aim is to determine which treatments are most effective to ensure that families can access the best possible care," he said.

The trial, which is funded by beyondblue, will run across a number of community health and university settings in both Geelong and Melbourne.

Families with a young person aged between 16 and 25 years are invited to participate, where the young person is suffering from depression, anxiety or drug and alcohol problems. At least one parent or carer must also be willing to take part.

Treatments will be run by professionals and will involve attendance at up to 12 weekly sessions. These can be arranged to meet family time pressures where possible.

Interested families will be assessed for eligibility. Families who are not eligible will be given referrals for alternative treatment options.

To register interest or for further information, contact Drummond Street Relationships Centre in Carlton and ask for the Deakin Family Options team. Phone (03) 9663 6733 or email


Media contact

Mandi O’Garretty
Media and Corporate Communications
03 52272776, 0418 361 890
Email Mandi

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