Investment for life-saving mental illness therapies

Investment for life-saving mental illness therapies

29 Mar 2021

Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce, said $15 million is now available to researchers in New England and across Australia to develop potentially life-saving therapies for those suffering from mental illness, including our Veterans and emergency service personnel dealing with the devastating effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“It is estimated four million Australians experience a mental health disorder every year, and almost half of all Australians will be affected at some point in their lifetime.  The most prevalent mental illnesses are anxiety disorders - affecting more than 14 per cent of adults each year - depression and substance abuse disorders.  Evidence also suggests that up to 12 per cent of Australians experience PTSD during their lifetime,” Mr Joyce said.

Many of the standard treatments for these illnesses can have varied efficacy and recovery rates, and there have been few advances in novel pharmaceutical discoveries in recent years.

However, there is now a strong and emerging body of international evidence that shows that substances such as ketamine, psilocybin, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), when used in a controlled environment and supported by psychological/psychiatric care, offer a promising new approach to effectively treating pernicious mental illnesses that are resistant to first-line treatments.

Several have been granted ‘Breakthrough Therapy’ status for treatment of PTSD and major depressive disorder by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The early results of trials in Australia and internationally are extremely encouraging, but more research is desperately needed before these approaches can be used by psychiatrists outside of controlled clinical trials

The Coalition Government’s $15 million Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness Grant Opportunity under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) will accelerate global efforts by supporting Australian-led research into the use of these approaches to combat resistant illnesses such as PTSD, major depressive disorder, addiction disorders and eating disorders that are impacting the lives of so many Australians.
Mr Joyce said he would encourage all researchers in New England to explore this grant opportunity.

“Mental health and suicide prevention is one of our Government’s highest priorities.  The prevalence and impact of mental illness is devastating for individuals, families and communities.  This bold initiative is about ensuring that we explore every avenue of potential treatment for Australians diagnosed with a mental illness,” Mr Joyce said. 

Funding for the 2021 Innovative Therapies for Mental Illness Grant Opportunity will be over three years from 2021–22, with project activity up to five years.

Applications for grants for Australian clinical trials to assess innovative therapeutics, including ketamine, psilocybin, and MDMA, supported by psychological/psychiatric care, are now open via GrantConnect: and close on 21 July, 2021.


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