I’m a post-doctoral research fellow within the neurodisability and rehabilitation group at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. My expertise largely surrounds the social determinants of health and how social factors, including loneliness and social exclusion exacerbate mental health symptoms (e.g., social anxiety, depression, stress) and contribute to poor physical health outcomes. I am experienced in the development and evaluation of digital interventions targeting loneliness and mental health variables in vulnerable groups (e.g., young people with psychosis, social anxiety disorders, those identifying as LGBTQIA+). Prior to my current research trajectory, I explored the neurobiological correlates related to empathy and moral judgment and decision making. I used neuroimaging techniques to differentiate functional and structural brain regions associated with empathizing with people from different group memberships.
My research primarily focuses on identifying, understanding, and addressing the mental health concerns of young people aged 10-30 years. I am particularly interested in the role of loneliness in maintaining and exacerbating mental and physical health conditions, and I believe targeting loneliness is necessary for improving the health and wellbeing of young Australians. Strong social connections are key to good health!
I use quantitative and qualitative research methods to answer the following questions:
1) What is the prevalence of mental disorders in vulnerable groups (e.g., developmental disabilities, marginalised groups, chronic psychiatric illnesses)?
2) What are the barriers for young people receiving adequate health care? And how do we effectively overcome these barriers?
3) How do young people use digital technologies, and what is the impact of these technologies on mental health?
4) How effective are digital interventions at targeting lonelienss and mental health concerns in young people?