Intervention Sciences

Designing interventions to promote emotional security and social connection

This research theme underpins all research conducted across SEED and is founded on our world-class longitudinal studies of social-emotional development. It supports research into the developmental origins of mental health and disorder, within and across generations.

Overview

The SEED intervention sciences theme aims to develop, trial, and disseminate interventions that support positive child development right from conception through to adulthood. In particular, we focus on interventions that support parent and child emotion regulation and parenting, through community and family-school partnerships, and through the use of smartphone and machine learning technology. We also support systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials of population-based interventions, which underpin the "SEED-POD Living Knowledge Review System", a continuously updated and self-learning web platform curating evidence-based population level mental health promotion interventions designed for children, adolescents, and young adults.

This theme not only focuses on intervention development and evaluation, but also harnesses system-based approaches to disseminate effective interventions. Our research supports the translation of effective preventive interventions into broader systems of community and education. We aim to lead new conceptual frameworks to embed efficacious interventions into government, community, and education systems, and thus ensure SEED output are translated in ways that maximise sustainability and reach. Our projects are conducted in close partnership with Deakin partners such as Communities That Care Ltd to prevent mental health problems and promote wellbeing and global citizenship in children and young people.

Our aims

  1. Conduct high-quality, randomised controlled trials of interventions targeting risk and protective factors identified as seminal by our research in Lifecourse Sciences

  2. Develop and maintain a ‘menu of services’ that lists interventions that have been repeatedly shown in randomised controlled trials to be efficacious in prevention of mental disorders and promotion of emotional health.

  3. Use a community-based participatory research framework to co-develop, test and effectively disseminate interventions, particularly at a population level.

Major projects

Pipeline to effective prevention and treatment: SEED mental health interventions

We design, evaluate and promote mental health interventions to help Australia’s young people grow up into resilient adults. Our work ensures the latest and most effective interventions can be used by governments, schools and communities.

Mental disorders are on the rise in Australia
Youth mental health problems have become increasingly common despite increased investment in mental health treatments. The number of Australian young people in psychological distress has increased from 1 in 5 in 2012 to 1 in 4 in 2020, according to a biennial report produced by Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute.

Treating mental disorders as they occur is not enough. We need greater investment in evidence-based prevention and positive youth development – an approach that seeks to optimise young people’s social and emotional development.

Ensuring positive youth development interventions are effective

We develop and evaluate interventions that support positive development right from conception and throughout adulthood. Interventions may involve programs, treatments or other actions (such as online resources) aimed at supporting general health and wellbeing, and/or treating or preventing a specific problem.

We focus on interventions that support:

  • parent and child emotion regulation (ability to manage emotions)
  • parenting
  • child and adolescent wellbeing and health.

We help communities access mental health research
Australians should benefit from the latest mental health research. We are building conceptual frameworks to help governments, communities and education systems adopt effective mental health interventions in a sustainable way.

Our research must reach people who need it in a format they can use. To make sure support is available to everyone in the community, we design interventions that work within community and family-school partnerships. Many use technology like smartphones and machine learning.

We also support systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials of interventions that address problems or promote strengths at a population rather than an individual level. These reviews feed into a continuously updating evidence-based intervention database powered by machine learning, the SEED POD.

SEED POD is a freely available web platform that curates population-level interventions designed to promote social and emotional health in children, adolescents and young adults.

We rate each intervention to indicate the strength of scientific evidence available to support them. Users of SEED POD can be confident that highly-rated programs are effective according to the latest research.

Meet the SEED Intervention Sciences team
Professor John Toumbourou and Dr Elizabeth Westrupp co-lead the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED) Intervention Sciences theme. For more information, contact seed-admin@deakin.edu.au.

SEED conducts world-leading research on social development and its origins in early emotional life.

We work closely with Deakin partners such as Communities that Care Ltd and Barwon Child Youth and Family.

SEED-POD

The SEED POD is a searchable website that provides families, schools and communities with accessible information about evidence-based programs for promoting positive social and emotional development across the early life course (0-24 years). The SEED POD is a living review of over 50 programs that can be implemented by communities at the population level.

The SEED POD is purpose-built for communities that complete the Comprehensive Monitoring System (CMS). The CMS is a suite of population-level surveys that assess the development of mental health difficulties and competencies for children and young people aged 0-24 years. The CMS identifies community needs so that population-level interventions can be meaningfully targeted. Each SEED POD program  receives a rating out of four stars to indicate the strength of supporting evidence. Community users, regardless of expertise, can easily interpret this information so that choosing an intervention to implement is made as straightforward as possible.

The SEED POD is supported by the Living Knowledge System (LKS), an intelligent piece of software that uses machine learning to expedite systematic reviews of evidence. The LKS helps to review existing programs and ensure that SEED POD information is current.

Each program in the SEED POD contributes to building or strengthening one or more of four foundations of social and emotional health: 1) physical regulation, 2) co-regulation, 3) self-regulation and 4) meaning and care.

The SEED POD website has been developed by a multidisciplinary team at Deakin including the Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED), the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A2I2), the Deakin Library, and Research Communications.

Web and app-based Interventions to Reduce Eating Disorders (WIRED) Project

Inter-linked studies exploring efficacy, user experience and cost-effectiveness of app based delivery of eating disorder interventions. The project also tackles influence of social media conversations on treatment seeking and disordered eating behaviours.

Living Knowledge Review System

Acollaboration between SEED, Deakin Library, Deakin Comms, and A2I2 to develop a human-computer hybrid system for expediting, maintaining, and enhancing accuracy of reviews of intervention literature, translated as a website which provides lay summaries of what works, for whom.

The Child and Parent Emotion Study–App Intervention (CAPES-AI)

Smartphone app using machine learning to tailor and personalise parenting intervention to improve child and parent emotion regulation (Westrupp et al).

Break Binge Eating and Breaking the Diet Cycle

Personalized web- and smartphone app-based interventions designed to target core eating disorder risk, maintaining, and protective factors (Linardon et al).

Adjunct computerised memory specificity training (c-MeST)

Randomised controlled trial evaluating a computerised intervention for improving deficits in autobiographical memory in youth with major depressive disorder (Hallford et al).

Future thinking Specificity Training (FeST)

Randomised control trial to assess if enhancing detail, imagery, and specificity in future thinking reduces anhedonia and overall symptoms in adults with major depressive disorder (Hallford et al).

Routine Suicide Risk Monitoring

To assess client's perspectives and the effects of implementing routine suicide risk measures into psychological practices in Australia (Hallford et al).

Researchers

Elise Sloan
Charles Abraham
Elizabeth Truscott-Holmes
Ruth Tatnell
Lata Satyen
Michelle Benstead
Bianca Klettke

Please also see:

HDR Students

PhD Gabriella King
Emotion Socialisation across the Transition to Kindergarten /Primary School

PhD Tomer Berkowitz    
Underrepresented groups in parenting interventions

DPsych Kesie Bufton
Developing an ‘Active Play’ Intervention to Support Emotion Regulation During Early Childhood

PhD Rebecca Knapp  
Maternal gaze and affective attunement: Patterns associated with infant attachment security and disorganization

DPsych Hannah Portogallo
Adult and adolescent consequences of child and adolescent depression trajectories

PhD Heidi Renner
Identifying and reducing inequities in educational pathways through socially inclusive community practices

DPsych Jane Green

DPsych Laura Zark  
Cross-Cultural Differences in Intimate Partner and Family Violence Among Tertiary Students

PhD Henry Teo 

PhD Lisa Klamert

PhD Meu Supol
Minimising the Effects of Family Violence: the Resilient Families Intervention

PhD Elizabeth Doery
An exploration of the social and emotional wellbeing and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

PhD Elizabeth Clancy
Sext Dissemination: Motivations and associations in early adulthood