Welcome to the new ebulletin for the Faculty
For information published before 29 April 2014, please see the old ebulletin
New submissions can be sent to ebulletin@monash.edu

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

eBulletin changes

Dear staff,

Unfortunately, our current FMNHS e-bulletin editor is leaving us this week. In light of her departure and the current internal communications review, the purpose, frequency and format of the e-bulletin will be revisited.

While the e-bulletin is on hold, please ensure you use your department’s internal communication channels you already have access to. If you have a story that would be of interest to the external public, please feel free to submit it to the Multimedia team for publication on the Faculty News webpage. http://jobdesk.monash.edu.au/login/

We appreciate your understanding while this change takes place.

DPsych student developing smartphone app to prevent and treat anxiety and depression

Doctor of Psychology student, David Bakker, is developing a smartphone app, MoodMission, which uses an intuitive and engaging interface to help users learn better ways of coping with low moods and anxious feelings.

Mental health and well-being apps are being used ever widely with users of all ages and mental health needs. Melbourne-based app Smiling Mind has received international acclaim for bringing mindfulness meditation to over 300,000 users’ phones. It is now being used widely in schools and organisations around the country.

David, and supervisor Associate Professor Nikki Rickard, have been working on MoodMission for the past 18 months. The project is now seeking support from investors through crowdfunding site Pozible, to start coding the software with help from Spark Digital – the same app development firm behind Smiling Mind.

David and Nikki are part of a team that has developed another mental health app, MoodPrism, which is due for release on the app store in the coming months.

MoodMission is designed to be used by anyone, whether they have a clinically significant anxiety or mood disorder, or just want to find ways of coping with day-to-day feelings of anxiousness or low moods.

MoodMission is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), as CBT shows the strongest evidence as an effective computerised treatment for anxiety and depression. Users report their low moods or anxious symptoms to MoodMission, which then recommends five useful, brief, easily achieved coping strategies to help them deal with negative thoughts, feelings, or behaviours. These could be relaxation strategies, cognitive reframing exercises, physical activities, or anything else that evidence shows can lift moods or reduce anxiety.

Users choose one of these “missions”, and when they have completed it MoodMission rewards them with points, badges, and other achievement acknowledgments. These rewards can promote positive psychological health through boosting self-esteem and feelings of mastery. To correspond to CBT practices, users also report how they feel after they have completed the mission. This enables MoodMission to suggest missions in the future that have had more past success. Psychoeducation is also employed throughout the app.

MoodMission will be experimentally validated via randomised controlled trialling to ensure that it is effective. No other mental health and well-being apps currently available on the app store have been validated by randomised controlled trialling. The app will be free to download when released, scheduled for next year.

For more information about the project visit:


MPs visit FMNHS for the second time this year

Nick Staikos and Steve Dimopoulos learn aboutresearch at FMNHS 

Since the Victorian Government announced $15 million for the planning of Australia’s first heart hospital earlier this year, The Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences have welcomed Steve Dimopoulos, Member for Oakleigh and Nick Staikos, Member for Bentleigh for the second time in less than six months.

Visiting Monash University Clayton last week where the new hospital will be built, the two MPs toured the Faculty of Medicine’s state of the art laboratories and met with researchers to learn about some of the work that is being undertaken at the Clayton campus and at our clinical sites.

For Mr Dimopoulos, the collaborative research in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences is an exciting part of the state’s future.

“It’s a whole collection of scientists with high energy, devoting time and resources to a multiple range of problems and challenges and I love the intensity of it. You can go in one door and out the other and research is always happening, and for me that’s so exciting”.

The Member for Oakleigh said that the Faculty of Medicine is an asset for his constituents, especially as the planning for the Victorian Heart Hospital begins.

“I don’t think people have any sense of the size, the scope and the depth of The Faculty of Medicine or of the opportunities for job creation, for medical discovery and for better health care. It’s nice to know that something like this is in your local community.

“I think the Monash Heart Hospital that will come on site is really good because you will get the scientists together with the clinicians in a live environment, collaborating and I think that can only be good for the constituents in Bentleigh, Oakleigh and the whole south east,” Mr Dimopoulos said.

Mr Staikos, Member for Bentleigh, agreed that the Faculty of Medicine provided an advantage for those who live in his area because it raises the standards of education in science and medicine and supports the state’s future.

“The Faculty of Medicine is world leading and cutting edge and at a time when our greatest challenge in Victoria is the loss of manufacturing it is a part of our future.

“By world standards we do have high standards in education but we are always asking how we can go forward and ensure that they continue to rise, and research here helps us do that”.

Mental health week 2015: Meditation for mindfulness vs meditation in religion or spiritual practice

Dr Neil Bailey from MAPrc has co-authored a study which explores whether mindfulness meditation has the same effect on the brain as meditation in spiritual practice.

According to the study, individuals who practise meditation religiously or spiritually and those who practise mindfulness meditation often report a greater sense of compassion, wellbeing, feeling of wholeness, decreased anxiety, and faster recovery from mental illness.

The report examines neuroimaging research that has focused on groups of meditating individuals, groups who engage in religious/spiritual practices, and research that has examined groups who perform both practices together, in an attempt to assess whether the effects on people's mindfulness are the same.

Differences in the balance of activity between the parietal and prefrontal cortical activation were found between the three groups. A relative prefrontal increase was reflective of mindfulness, which related to decreased anxiety and improved well-being.

A relative decrease in activation of the parietal cortex, specifically the inferior parietal cortex, appeared to be reflective of spiritual belief, whether within the context of meditation or not.

Because mindful and spiritual practices differ in focus regarding the ‘self’ or ‘other’ (higher being), these observations about neurological components that reflect spirituality may continue work towards understanding how the definition of ‘self’ and ‘other’ is represented in the brain, and how this may be reflected in behaviour.

The study notes that future research can begin to use cohorts of participants in mindfulness studies which are controlled for using the variable of spirituality to explicitly examine how functional and structural similarities and differences may arise.

Reference: Barnby JM, Bailey NW, Chambers R, Fitzgerald PB. How similar are the changes in neural activity resulting from mindfulness practice in contrast to spiritual practice? Conscious Cogn. 2015 Nov;36:219-32. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.07.002. Epub 2015 Jul 11.

The John Murtagh Update Course

Date: November 4-6 2015

The update course is a celebration of what is best in clinical general practice learning and in an era of electronic clinical education offerings, it continues to be a mainstay in practising GPs’ educational calendars. It also provides an opportunity for GPs to network with their colleagues. The course is named in honour of Professor John Murtagh and his extraordinary contribution to Family Medicine. The 2015 Annual Update course is proudly convened by the Department of General Practice, Monash University, and will be held this year at the Rendezvous Hotel, 328 Flinders Street, Melbourne, 3000. Full program details will be available from Easter 2015. This will be the 37th year that the course has been offered.

See photos from the 2014 course

Find out more

Registrations now OPEN

Mindfulness Workshop

Mindfulness Workshop

Date: October 10, 2015 (Saturday)

Due to the popularity and excellent feedback from the Mindfulness course held last February 21, 2015, we will be holding another Mindfulness course later this year.

Mindfulness-based approaches have generated a great deal of clinical and research interest in recent years. Mindfulness is a generic skill involving training attention and attitude. It has a wide range of solutions to improving immunity, neuroplasticity, epigenetics, and enhanced clinical performance. This interactive workshop will explore the principles and application of mindfulness based practices for personal and professional use.

The Mindfulness course aims to increase awareness of the importance of stress and mental health problems and their effects on wellbeing, performance and leadership. It will also increase knowledge of the indications for and role of mindfulness in managing mental and physical illness.

Find out more

Registrations now OPEN

Department of General Practice Seminar

Title: Patient controlled admissions in Psychiatry - A Danish national explorative study of “User-controlled beds” presented by Ms Trine Ellegaard,(Deakin University)

The Department of General Practice, Monash University, runs a weekly Wednesday seminar which might be of interest to anyone working in primary health care or a related field. You are welcome to attend, without registration (and sandwiches are provided).

Time: 12.30 – 1.30 pm

Date: Wednesday, 14 October, 2015

Venue: Meeting Room 4, Building 1, 270 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill
(check room location at reception)

Enquiries: josefine.antoniades@monash.edu

Tel: 9902 4512

Seminar and workshop: Making healthcare workplaces more effective learning environments

Please join us for a seminar and workshop on "Making healthcare workplaces more effective learning environments", where Professor Stephen Billett will share some of his research on learning in practice settings, undertaken as an ARC Future Fellow.

Date: Tuesday 27 October 2015

Seminar - 9:30-10:30

Workshop - 10:50-12:30

Location: M5, Medicine 13C, 10 Chancellors Walk, Clayton Campus

It is possible to attend the seminar only, or both seminar and workshop.

Please RSVP by Wednesday 21 October to Joanna.Tai@monash.edu