Dr Alison Calear

BAppPsych (Hons), PhD
NHMRC Fellow
ANU College of Health and Medicine

Areas of expertise

  • Mental Health 111714
  • Other Psychology And Cognitive Sciences 1799

Research interests

  • Youth mental health
  • e-mental health
  • Prevention and early intervention of anxiety, depression and suicide
  • Help-seeking behaviour 
  • Stigma and literacy

Biography

Alison Calear is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Mental Health Research working in the areas of youth mental health, e-health and the prevention and early intervention of anxiety, depression and suicide. Alison heads the Prevention, Promotion and Educational Systems research unit and is currently leading an evaluation of the Sources of Strength suicide peer leadership program in Australian schools.

Researcher's projects

Sources of Strength Australia

Youth suicide is a significant public health problem. In 2011, suicide was the leading cause of death in young Australians aged 15- 24 years. The prevalence of youth suicide, and the significant burden associated with it, has given rise to the development of a range of interventions aimed at the prevention of suicidal behaviour and the promotion of help-seeking and early identification for suicide in young people. The need to promote and assist help-seeking behaviour among youth is critical, as young people often do not seek or receive help for suicidal thoughts and behaviour.

The universal Sources of Strength peer leadership program https://sourcesofstrength.org/ takes a social connectedness approach to improving help-seeking for suicide and general psychological distress. This program is designed to build socioecological protective influences across an entire school student population and focuses on enhancing help-seeking norms, youth-adult communication, and coping skills to promote help-seeking.

The Sources of Strength program has been evaluated in a randomised controlled trial of 18 high schools, 453 peer leaders and 2,675 students located in the US, with consistent evidence of a positive intervention effect on the norms, attitudes and behaviour of both peer leaders and the wider student population.

The present project is a large trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the evidence-based Sources of Strength program in Australian schools. The need to implement and evaluate suicide prevention programs in Australian schools is high, given a recent review of 43 school-based suicide prevention studies only identified one gatekeeper trial in Australia, with a second indicated trial underway. 16 schools from the ACT and NSW will be recruited to participate in this trial.

Silence is Deadly evaluation

The Menslink’s Silence is Deadly campaign is in its fifth year with students in over 50 schools receiving its valuable messages. Menslink visit schools to talk to boys of all ages about the hassles of life and make sure they: talk to their friends about issues in their life, assist friends if they’re going through tough times, and get professional help if they need it. A randomised controlled trial will be conducted to in the ACT region (approx. 800 students) to evaluate the effect of the Silence is Deadly program on help-seeking attitudes, intentions and behaviour.

Development of suicide risk and psychological distress screeners for young people

Many of the current measures of suicide risk and psychological distress used with young people were originally developed for adults. These measure may or may not have been adapted for young people and therefore may not adequately meet the needs or experiences of this population. The aim of this project is to develop two new brief screeners for suicide risk and psychological distress that are specifically developed for young people aged 14-21 years and in consultation with young people, parents, clinicians and researchers.

Development of a parent program to support youth mental health.

Parents are often the gatekeepers to mental health care for young people. However, parents often report not having the knowledge to recognise mental health problems or support young people experiencing psychological distress. The aim of this project is to develop a program to educate parents about mental health problems and suicide risk in young people, as well as provide resources to help them support a young person in distress. This program would be targeted to parents of primary and secondary school aged young people and target general mental health and suicide awareness.

Publications

Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  15 September 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers