Today we speak with Dr. Aliza Werner-Seidler, a Clinical Psychologist and Senior Research Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, affiliated with the University of New South Wales. Aliza works on the prevention and treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, particularly via school-based and digitally delivered, evidence-based programs. She is currently the Chief Investigator of the largest preventative program of anxiety and depression run in Australia, a randomised controlled trial involving 20,000 young people across 400 schools.
Prevention is an emerging and understudied area of mental health, but one with the potential to save huge amounts of suffering and make a significant contribution to the alleviation of the economic burden of mental health disorders facing the modern world.
In this conversation, Aliza provides outlines the work that she is leading at the Black Dog Institute and gives an overview of the field of preventative and early intervention approaches to mental health care.
0:55 – On the history of preventative and early intervention programs, and the reasons increasing interest in them
2:45 – Do preventative and early intervention programs actually reduce the incidence of mental health issues or reduce their severity?
5:05 – What do we know about matching people with different sorts of preventative and early intervention programs?
6:50 – Challenges that preventative programs face, beyond being a young field
7:45 – On what a typical universal prevention program looks like.
11:35 – On the relation between mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention.
13:35 – What is happening at the moment in terms of pilot programs?
18:10 – What content is typical of a universal program aimed at preventing depression and anxiety?
21:00 – What is the attitude of schools toward preventative programs?
26:05 – On the goals of the Future Proofing study Aliza is currently leading
27:45 – How do we prevent less common mental health challenges, such as psychotic disorders.
32:15 – What do the economics of preventative mental health programs look like?
39:10 – What must be considered around “critical windows”?
43:25 – Early life trauma and preventative programs
44:50 – How to learn more about the field of prevention
47:45 – Opportunities to get involved in the field, and the work at the Black Dog Institute.
50:10 – On disorders which preventative approaches don’t seem to be effective for.
The 1994 report from the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Prevention of Mental Disorders
Blackdog’s preventative, digitally-delivered Future Proofing Study, involving 20,000 high school students.
A seminal meta-analysis on the prevention of depression by Pim Cuijpers’ group at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (The Netherlands).
Aliza’s profile at the Black Dog Institute.